Akamai Diversity

The Akamai Blog

BSidesLV 2013: A Place For Security Newbies

One of the things I've always loved about Security B-Sides is that it offers a nurturing environment for people who are young in their InfoSec careers. An example of that is playing out this week in Las Vegas.

Among the tracks of talks being offered is one devoted entirely to newbies and the more seasoned veterans who have been guiding them along in a successful mentoring program. 

The track -- called "Proving Ground" -- includes talks on everything from learning to do effective public speaking and writing to getting a grip on the challenges of such things as executive management.

This B-Sides tradition goes back to the beginning of the movement. I remember BSides Boston 2010, when a young pup named Joseph Sokoly gave a talk about breaking into the industry and learning to succeed, something he has since done with distinction.

Back then, Sokoly said breaking into the security community wasn't as hard as it first seemed. In fact, his career got a big boost simply because he had the guts to stand up in front of people and give his first talk at an event in Austin. "Giving the talk in Austin helped me tremendously," Sokoly said at the time. "It has opened doors. My being here (at BSides Boston 2010) is a result of that. First, the positive reaction from the community encouraged me not just to listen but to speak again."

His Austin talk also inspired security heavyweights like Chris Hoff and James Arlen to look at establishing a mentor program to coincide with that summer's B-Sides Las Vegas event. The rest is history.

"Being proactive works. Put yourself out there and things will open up, but speaking doesn't have to be it. Use Twitter. Start blogging," Sokoly said. 

He's absolutely right. And this week, we're getting to hear from more people who are just getting started. Talks on the schedule include:

--Keli Hay (mentor is Brian Martin), "Never Mind Your Diet, Cut the Crap From Your Vocabulary"

--Franklin Tallah (mentor is Wendy Nather), "The 7 habits of highly effective CISOs"

--Alex Pinto (mentor is Joel Wilbanks), "Using Machine Learning to Support Information Security"

--Wolf Flight (mentor is Terry Gold), "The Truth, You Thought We Wouldn't Know?"

--Doug Moore (mentor is Brendan O'Connor), "Sixteen Colors: Archiving the Evolution of ANSI and ASCII Art"