As I wandered through the psychedelic chaos of Black Hat Europe 2022, I couldn’t help but feel like I had stumbled into the belly of the beast. The vendor area was a tacky nightmare of flashing lights and buzzword-laden sales pitches, but I knew there was something deeper lurking beneath the surface.
And then, like a shot of pure adrenaline to the heart, Dan Cuthbert’s opening keynote began and the conference was suddenly alive with the raw energy of truth and rebellion. Cuthbert spoke about security walled gardens, the responsibility of the cybersecurity community, and how to work with regulators in order to defend our digital world from the ravages of criminal enterprises.
And then, it was my turn to take the stage (a considerably smaller stage compared to Dan, in the basement, at the back). My presentation on navigating the social engineering jungle. In my mind, it was met with rapt attention and approval from the audience, and I basked in the glow of their appreciation.
As the crowd dispersed, I found myself drawn into a series of intense conversations with some of the most fascinating and dangerous minds in the world of cybersecurity.
I met two Stuarts, who were each as enigmatic and unpredictable as a loaded revolver,
I had lunch with Dr Jess Barker and FC, and realised that quality time with wonderful people is something I often neglect. Dr Barker also had a copy of my book (available on Amazon as a paperback and Kindle) which she even asked me to sign. Which of course set imposter syndrome to nosebleed heights.
Nabil, known to some as NJ, was a crucial figure in the Blackhat Arsenal. A veritable fountain of cool ideas and innovations, he was a driving force behind the annual gathering of tech-savvy malcontents. But despite his undeniable prowess, there was something about Nabil that set my teeth on edge – he never seemed to age. It was almost as if he had discovered the fountain of youth, and the mere thought of it made me want to spit nails.
But as the conference came to a close and the attendees filed out into the night, I couldn’t shake the feeling that we were all just pawns in a larger game, being played by unseen forces for their own ends. The battle for the future of our digital world is far from over, but I know that I will be ready when the time comes to take up arms and fight for what is right.
Saturday: Bsides London
As I stumbled through the cold on Saturday morning, I made my way to the one event that started it all for me: BSides London. I pushed my way past the throngs of attendees and made it through the revolving doors just before Andy (@Sirjester) could enter.
Time flies when you’re having BSides fun. Andy and I had met at the first BSides back in 2011, and we decided to recreate the photo we took back then. It seems that time has been kinder to me than it has to Andy.
I had signed up as a mentor at the event, with the goal of encouraging first-time speakers to sign up as “rookies.” I was paired with Ana, and her talk on Colour Theory and its relevance to cyber security was absolutely brilliant.
Despite my desire to stay longer, my old bones were feeling the effects of two events in one week, so I headed home in search of a hot cup of coffee and a nap. But I’m so happy to see the community continuing to grow and the talent on display at these events.