BSides Cleveland – Afterwords

07.13.2012 – Attended BSidesCLE

Now that I’m a grown-up and actually have held a job that requires growing, I’ve gone to off-site meetings or demo days. So far they’ve always been in nice hotels, provide breakfast, lunch and refreshments, but what they really are is a sales pitch. Some better disguised than others, but none the less, for a professional function, during the work week, held in a hotel, they were fancy sales pitches.

This was the first time I felt strongly enough to use paid time off to attend something. Turns out, my current job is fantastic, and when they found out it was a Security conference, told me to cancel the PTO request and just go on the clock. I don’t know much about what happens at “hacker” cons, but the atmosphere at BSides was incredible compared to other off-site functions for work. Every other one was a sales pitch.

BSides, and I hope others match this experience, is a place to hang out. There was a lovely breakfast with plenty of good food, big, open tables and areas to gather and converse, and a schedule events to learn things. Oh the things to learn; building an awareness program, lockpicking, anti-forensics, industry politics, and general pentesting. These presenters came from all walks, authors, executives, admins, pentesters, developers, they were as varied as the attendees. Before I got to the event I was feeling intimidated, I know I am a novice in all things InfoSec, but I want to learn, and that’s what the day was full of, learning. I was given an outpouring of information about how to do things, learn things, and think about things different. All the speakers drove the point home, “we can do this, why aren’t you?” about their dayjobs, about their hobbies, about their lives in and around the community. No one was unapproachable, no one was concerned when things had to change last minute; re-write a talk, have someone sub with one of their old talks, let’s just keep the show running. It was great to experience this and take away the feeling I can get to that point.

What did I really take away? The same thing this blog is built to enforce. Changing is hard work. Sometimes the hard part is plugging away with no end in sight until something just clicks, sometimes it’s learning 100 new skills at once and trying to balance. I learned that I’m always one click, one video, one blog post away from learning all the secrets, but really what it takes is DOING. More and more I know how to learn things; do them. Now I have a job that will PAY ME to go to things to learn. They will pay me to prove that I know things by getting certifications. They do this to keep me happy, but to also give me a path. They do not dictate that path, I am open to choose these topics, choose these certifications. I have to pay this back by following a path. Doing more than just watching something pass by and reading about it.