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Black Hat 2013: The Benefits of 'Lobby Con'

It's the end of my first day in Las Vegas, where I'm spending the week at Black Hat and BSidesLV. Along with DEF CON, which begins later in the week, these events are important for those of us in Akamai's InfoSec department. It's a place for vital networking and discussion on the threats and defensive measures for which we're responsible.

Also see: "A Black Hat, BSidesLV and DEF CON Survival Guide"

Attending talks is a central part of these conferences. But for me, the most important part is what a lot of us in the security community call "Lobby Con." Essentially, it's hanging out in the lobbies and bars of the conference venues. We relax, enjoy beverages and discuss a wide range of topics. 

Today, I met up with several security professionals I usually only get to talk to on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+ and the topics were, among other things:

--How to keep from burning out in the job and industry;
--The latest DDoS attack activity, where it's coming from and what enterprise security shops are trying to do to blunt the impact;
--The fine art of travel to and from conferences; and
--The never-ending challenge of getting upper management to understand the security issues they face and why they need to invest in defenses.

I had dinner with several people from the security and risk management department of a major financial services company, most of whom I met for the first time. There will be plenty more of that in the days to come.

I've said it before: If you find yourself stressing over how many sessions to attend and there's an opportunity to do some networking in the lobby, go for the networking. 

The talks are important. But while the presentations will help you understand and deal with the challenges of the day, week, month or year, the relationships you forge outside the session rooms will be of critical value for the rest of your career. 

1 Comment

Bill, I would argue that one that the term "Lobby con" comes from the fact that many people who want to experience the conference can't afford to actually attend the conference. So instead of actually going into any of the sessions or the expo hall, they hang out in the lobby and snipe smart people like yourself for a conversation. The trick is to know the "Bill Brenners" of the security world.

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