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Why I'm Attending ShmooCon 2014

Here at Akamai, we're busy preparing for RSA Conference 2014. It's the biggest security conference of the year, and we send a platoon of employees every time. Given our role in securing the Internet, it's a no-brainer.

But there are many other conferences we attend each year, because:

  1. We have a lot of information to share about attacks against Akamai customers and how the security team continues to successfully defend against them.
  2. We have to stay on top of all the latest threats and attack techniques so we can continue to be successful. Conferences are an important place to do that.
Next week, I'm attending one of the lesser-known conferences: ShmooCon 2014 in Washington DC. In recent years, I've found some of the best content at this event, and I've learned a lot. It's also an excellent place to meet other security practitioners that can become important allies. Some of the most important contacts I've made were at ShmooCon.

The unfamiliar usually chuckle or cock their heads in puzzlement when I tell them about ShmooCon. The name throws them off, and it's not a traditional business conference. ShmooCon is organized by the Shmoo Group, a security think tank started by Bruce Potter in the late 1990s. Attendees represent the full cross section of the security industry. There are hackers, CSOs, government security types and everything in between. More than a few people have compared it to the Black Hat conferences of old or a smaller version of Defcon.

The event has inspired a lot of thinking outside the box -- not just in terms of the talks, but in how attendees travel and network. In recent years people have carpooled to ShmooCon. For three years in a row I traveled to and from the event in what we called the Shmoobus -- An RV crammed with hackers making the journey from Boston to Washington DC. Those 12-hour drives made for a lot of bonding. With such a long trek, there's time to delve into deep discussions about the challenges of our jobs.

The Shmoobus is no more, unfortunately. But what I learned about security on those journeys will last a lifetime.

For more information about ShmooCon, visit the website. The full agenda is posted, including one of my favorite parts of the event, Friday-night "fire talks" -- 15-minute presentations where speakers are challenged to dive right into the core of their content.

I'll write about the talks and other ShmooCon events from this blog.


1 Comment

These kind of conferences also have a lot more humor than the RSA conference as far I can tell.

And they post videos of the talks online.

As I'm in Europe traveling to the US for conference add quiet a bit of extra time and cost so I've watched a lot of videos online.