Chicago Conferences 2015

So another Chicago security conference season is in the books including @Thotcon & @BsidesChicago. This is the second year that I’ve attended from afar since I moved to the Detroit Metro area. This has presented it’s own challenges from places to stay, getting to the venues and trying to see all my friends from that area.

The weekend started with dinner with my friend @4n6woman on Wednesday night and rooming with another friend and their coworker. Thursday morning brought us Thotcon 0x6 and my 5th trip to this conference. Thotcon 0x2 was my first security conference so I have a soft spot in my heart for this one. The email from the organizers promised some updates and a number of new things in store for this year. I had a VIP badge so I was excited to see how they have changed things. The venue was the same one that they had for the last few years but a new configuration gave them a little more room, more areas, & less bleed-over from the hallway-con that has been an issue in the past. It is still in the middle of BFE from those of us that don’t live on the CTA lines though. While the conference itself seemed better from a layout perspective, this part still irks me. I’ve spoken with the conference organizers about this and the big issue I’ve been told is cost & the ability to get a good venue near the city for less money brought them back.

I spent a lot of day one on talking to friends and catching up but I did see the talk by a very smart lady I know @wbm312 who did yet another great talk this year called “Hacking the CFAA”. Great content and I wish I had a few hours to sit and talk to her about all the legal ramifications around the security work that we do on a daily basis. Day two brought a number of talks that I wanted to catch by friends and a few I didn’t know. One of the #BurbSec IRC crew (admford) did a talk on “How to Influence Elections on a Budget”, my friend @jack_daniel let us know “What we know & what we need to know”, another friend @claudijd spoke about sketchy “Trojaned Gems” in Ruby, and the #AwkwardHug master @jaysonstreet talked about “BREAKING in BAD!” where he is the one who doesn’t knock. I had to head back to NW Indiana that night so I didn’t get to see the after party but I had a few drinks with some friends on that side of the state line so it was all good.

Moving on to Bsides Chicago on Saturday brought a new venue, new speakers, and a new list of talks to learn from. The venue was different this year and outside of the ultra-loud A/C it was a pretty good set up. If you were paying attention the A/C the venue speakers could overcome the A/C for the talks. The keynote from @gdead was the first time I’ve heard him speak. Great talk & a lot of good points made including “I don’t care if you disagree, but let’s have a constructive conversation about it”. Later @harmj0y and @sixdub talked about abusing trust relationships in Active Directory, and the main reason for my attendance,  @runasand talked about the Tor tools and their uses. These were the talks that stuck out to me & I feel gave some really great information on what is going on and thoughts about what to do about it when you go back to work Monday morning.

Overall the weekend was great. I had some new beers from a brewery across from the Thotcon venue, I was able to see a bunch of people I haven’t seen in a while, connect with some new friends, and just relax a bit from the stress of our daily lives as security professionals. What did you feel was the greatest thing about the weekend? Leave a comment or hit me up on twitter.

-Scott

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