Today involved an extremely early start, at least for someone like me who had to work until half past late last night. It also involved the most horrendous tube experience I’ve had to date with the last 4 stops on the Central Line reminding me of some phrase to do with sardines.
But was it worth it?
Having never even been to a RANT event before I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. if i’m honest I would have to say that I actually felt quite apprehensive – other events like BSidesLondon make me question whether I should even be rubbing shoulders with some of the attendees so today, with a more exclusive and executive look to the attendance list got me wondering if I would have been better off going into my real job and all that entails instead.
Fortunately I’m just too damn interested and excited by the topic of information security to let such thoughts put me off though and I’m glad of that because I really did enjoy the day.
All in there were 8 different talks scheduled for the day. Of course some I was predisposed to because of the participants – Bruce Hallas and Neira Jones especially as they are both far too good to me – and other people I know/know of such as Javvad Malik and Stephen Bonner who both offer excellent value every time. (I’m absolutely gutted that Brian Honan wasn’t able to make it – hes certainly an InfoSec Rockstar in my eyes).
As for the other talks, well, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the names I didn’t recognise but (almost) all of them were excellent –
1. The Big Shift
The opening talk from Mark Stevenson was excellent. Covering a wide range of not-so-future tech, from 3D printers to downloadable drugs and immortality I really did enjoy the content as well as the message about how the security industry needs to evolve at a similar pace in order to keep up with how quickly our world is evolving and the risks that come with that.
2. InfoSec Rock Stars. The myth and the reality.
InfoSec Rock Stars disappointed me a little as not one of the panel actually divulged how many hotel rooms they have trashed. But beyond that it was all good – I think the three people I already knew of – Stephen, Javvad and Neira truly are stars in their own ways.
The fourth member of the group I’d not heard of before – Edward Gibson – and, when he went to talk the first time, I had an “uh-oh, lame” kind of feeling as he paused for what seemed like forever before getting started. But, you know what, he turned out to be fantastic and I’m going to have to find out more about the guy now…
Only disappointment with this talk was it didn’t match up to Javvad’s BSides talk where he went into some detail about becoming a Rock Star but, hey, we all now know you just need to make some YouTube videos don’t we?
3. State Sponsored Espionage
This was another good talk, topical too, that was totally owned by Ed Gibson in my opinion, to the point where I’d struggle to name the other panelists.
The only criticism I would have of this slot was, as a questioner mentioned, that it didn’t really go into the topic in the way I had hoped it would, i.e. what are we going to do to counter state sponsored espionage?
4. In Banks we trust, in Trust we Bank.
I can understand why this talk was included – Tom Salkied is from Integralis who sponsored the event – but I wish it wasn’t. The guy seemed like a competent and knowledgeable speaker, I just found the content to be boring.
5. An Awareness Odyssey: Why is security awareness training still stuck in the airlock of compliance?
This is the one I was looking forward to as security awareness is something I have a personal interest in. Having the non-comedic stand-up artist Jim Shields (only kidding Jim) moderating and Thom Langford (see him everywhere, must say hello some time) and top man Bruce Hallas amongst others I thought this would be a good, strong and lively debate.
I also hoped that Bruce would get to talk in some detail about his amazing The Analogies Project but, alas, that didn’t happen (do watch out for it though as I believe it may propel Mr. Hallas into the Rock Star group next time around, if he isn’t there already).
All in all I thought this section of the day was good but can’t help feeling it needed a much longer time slot in order to explore the topic in much more detail. Then again, maybe thats just because its a topic that especially resonates with me?
6. University Challenge
Some pros vs some students, I thought this was quite good, possibly more because of the technical issues than anything else. inadvertent humour is always fun.
7. Mobile Security Debate
Here again I thought that the time slot was too short for this discussion – things started well but the demo had to be cut short, just as it was about to get interesting. I would have loved to have known what the team found out about the mobile phones that the infosec attendees had on their persons.
8. Cyber war, what is it good for?
Of course its always good to save the best to last and Stephen Bonner, Infosec Ambassador, never, ever disappoints.
I’d already seen this talk at BSidesLondon but hung around to see it again. It was well worth it. Oh, and I got a Lindt chocolate too. Go me!
So, all in all, I thought the RANT Conference was extremely good. There was one talk that I didn’t like, a couple that I thought were too short but the rest were excellent.
Its a shame I couldn’t stay for drinks afterwards (the punishment for working in retail is that I cannot afford such luxuries) but the day was very, very, good nonetheless.
Between talks I caught up with several familiar faces (including someone who couldn’t fit into their suit – who ate all the pies Mr. @sirjester?) and also met some new people too – it was good to meet you too Mo and Anush.
And, to finish off, I would like to send a huge thanks to Neira Jones – for someone who must be incredibly busy she just keeps on going out of her way to help me. I don’t know why but I most definitely appreciate it.