I love this time of year. Maybe its because I lead a sheltered life, but ‘InfoSec week’ is something I look forward to for quite some time in advance.
The opportunity to book a few days off work and take time out from retail is good in and of itself but of far greater import is the opportunity to meet up with old friends and make some new acquaintances.
And thats exactly what happened this week, despite the chaos caused by the tube strike.
Tuesday was, of course, THE day (BSidesLondon) on the infosec calender and so I duly checked the train service and headed off for my local station. Finding it shut, despite indications to the contrary on the web, I embarked on what would turn out to be a three and a quarter hour journey (it should have taken 55 mins) to Kensington Town Hall.
But it was definitely worth it.
I missed half of the opening keynote but the following presentation, from Stephen Bonner, was up to his usual standards (that means awesome). Not only that, but I also managed to bag my first autograph too (yeah, yeah, I know, but he does need his ego massaging, right?):
I also got to meet
Dr. Jessica Barker Jess for the first time which was a treat as I have have been following her tweets with interest for quite some time now (I cannot wait until next time either as I still have 101 questions for her).
Then it was time to further regret wearing shoes instead of something more comfortable as I made my way to The Troubador Cafe near Earls Court for the first of several meetings with some REAL infosec stars (many, many thanks to Eskenzi PR for the opportunity).
Walking down the narrow staircase I encountered the non-zombified form of Cindy Valladares for the first time (it was nice to meet you and be able to put a face to a voice I’d only previously heard on the phone), before bumping into the one and only John Leyden from The Register.
Next, a meeting with detective novel-loving Dwayne Malancon that was not only interesting but also especially pertinent as we spoke about a topic close to my heart – retail security.
A brisk walk later and I was back at BSides, though too late to grab any lunch (not a bad thing really as that, combined with all the walking, may lead my bathroom scales to say much nicer things next time we meet).
The lack of any form of nourishment was soon forgotten though as I had a brief encounter (story of my life) with THE BOSS, aka Mr. Honan, a man who has made an incredible difference to my life (thanks Brian!)
Next, an extremely interesting conversation about honeypots with Leon van der Eijk, a man who knows his stuff so well that he really doesn’t have anything to worry about when it comes to presenting on the topic.
From there it was off to the Lightning track and an interesting presentation about ‘Women in Security’ which, if nothing else, showed that there are still some preconceptions and elements of sexism in the industry (intentional or otherwise). Afterwards, I got talking to about half a dozen people in detail about the topic though, alas, I did not catch their names.
Of course I cannot mention the Lightning track without also highlighting the efforts of Mo Amin who appeared to be doing a sterling job of organising the event and dragging people in. I like Mo and it was good to see a lot of him this week.
As the day wound down I bumped into Dan Raywood, not for the first time, and so I got to see firsthand how an infosec journalist goes about his business as we watched a classic Arron Finnon rant, this time about IDS.
And so endeth day one.
Fortunately, Wednesday started off infinitely better than Tuesday had. My local station was back up and running, meaning a smooth journey to Earls Court was assured.
My first meeting was with someone I hadn’t originally intended to see as I have other topics that interest me more on a personal level but I have to say that Amichai Shulman from Imperva was an absolute delight to talk to and, as I noted at the time, I could listen to this guy for hours – he speaks very well and his passion for the topic is plain to see.
Before the next meeting I had a wander around, catching up with Bruce Hallas and finally getting to say hello to the irrepressible Thom Langford who, thankfully, didn’t give me a clip around the ear (or worse) following the lambasting I recently gave him over his wooden acting.
Next, another highly interesting meeting, this time with Jim Hansen at PhishMe in which he shared insight into phishing attacks (I could tell you more but…).
Then… it was time to bag some swag (not for me but for my daughter, honest – I hope she likes pigs)
Finally, on my way out, I passed a Belgian beer-pimping Graham Cluley and had a quick chat with James Lyne (damn, I missed most of his presentation this year) before catching up with the man behind the avatar, Mr. Coulson with whom it has always been a pleasure to interact with on Twitter, though his subsequent tweet would suggest that I must have missed a free bar somewhere 🙁
Met another InfoSec legend today .. @Security_FAQs … Such a gent. Pleasure to put a face to the name. Good luck tonight.
— Stuart Coulson (@SPCoulson) April 30, 2014
Leaving InfoSec behind for another year I paused on the steps for a while to grab some fresh air mixed with some self-induced pollution and pondered who I had yet to meet in person. A huge number of names came to mind but the one at the top of the list by far was another man who has done much for me. So you can understand how surreal it was when Raj Samani walked past at that exact moment.
European Blogger Awards and the free bar (the barmaid just wouldn’t believe that I really am only 16 years old, despite my unorthodox choice of drinks).
Being in the same room as so many big names in infosec was quite an experience but not only for me it seems.
— Lewis Morgan (@LewisMorgan_) April 30, 2014
A few alcopops later and the awards began and the worthy were duly named and honoured, with the best being saved until last (congratulations to the entire team, including editor Anna Brading) as Naked Security’s Chester Wisniewski picked up the Grand Prix Prize for Best Overall Security Blog – please, no checking me out in the photo though, I assure you this one is far more appealing:
Many goodbyes later and it was off home for me (after some much appreciated congratulations from a non-award-winning party) and a packed train awaited, though the crush was more than bearable as I finished the night with good conversation with Mo Amin.
(Apologies if I have missed anyone out).