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[ISN] How to Enjoy a Black Hat USA and/or DEF CON Convention


By William Knowles
Senior Editor
InfoSec News
July 26, 2013

Probably the best article I have seen in regards to making the most of conventions was written by Daniel Ryan, an Associate Professor of Sociology at Mills College. I’ll try to add some additional wisdom from attending about 9 Black Hat Las Vegas Briefings and 15 DEFCON conventions.

Upon checking in, locate the health club or fitness center in your hotel and see what their hours are. If you are staying at Caesers Palace, Find both the Galleria and Shadow Bar as these are two of the best spots for LobbyCon, Likewise at the Rio for DEF CON, just about any bar will have a large contingent of attendees hanging out.

Next, scan through the index of the program to see if there is anyone whose talk you absolutely don’t want to miss. (Keep this list short.) Draw a little time chart and note where these talks are and when. If you’re not doing anything else, you can try to catch them. After this, make a list of all the people you want to say hello to, have a meal with or meet. These two lists are your agenda for the meeting. Best to add your must attend talks to Google Calendar and set some reminders.

Remember that almost everyone else is feeling like they don’t know anyone too.

Don’t get cynical about schmoozing. This IS what these conventions are about, and that’s not a bad thing. It is common for beginners to feel left out, that they don’t know anybody, and that “it’s all just a big reunion of people who don’t care whether a nobody like me lives or dies.” That’s true. The secret, though, is that that IS all that it is, and the only reason you feel this way is because you don’t know many people YET. Give yourself some time. Slipping too quickly into the defensive wall-flower frame of mind is a sure recipe for prolonging the period in which you feel like you don’t know anybody.


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