With Hacker Summer Camp 2017 over, recovery process completed, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on my first ever experience and thank so people along the way. As an Australian, getting over to Las Vegas off your own back can be challenging, but given I have spent the past 2 years here, the opportunity was right.
As many of you already know, our CFP was accepted by BlackHat (@BlackHatEvents), so not only was I attending this fantastic con, but I also had the opportunity to speak. Arriving at noon on Tuesday, seeing Daniel Bohannon (@danielhbohannon) in the same checkin line as me made it a huge reality. I didn't want to seem like a crazy fan, so I just smiled to myself knowing I was about to embark on one of the most memorial weeks of my career.
After checkin, I ventured down to the BlackHat conference centre to collect my pass. I felt like a kid in a candy store seeing the huge BlackHat sign and then my name on the speaker board AT THE TOP 🙂 After collecting my badge and my speaker swag, I attended Day Zero.
Black Hat Speaker Board
One of my favourites sessions was listening to Ping Look (@vlkyri) on the history of BlackHat, especially being the 20th Anniversary year. Death by a 1000 abstracts by Stefano Zanero (@raistolo) really made me appreciate what a big deal it was to be accepted and what was coming in 2 days time.
Wednesdays opening started by Jeff Moss (@thedarktangent) reflecting on BlackHat beginnings and how that became two greats cons, BH and DefCon (@defcon). I am sure many heard about the keynote delivered by Facebook's CSO Alex Stamos (@alexstamos). Loved his thoughts on empathy in the workplace, I think we have a long way to go, but really listening to your people and getting to know what makes them tick has more impact than what we realise. Only 5 mins of your time people to ask someone how their day is, but actually mean it!
I managed to attend a few talks, including "How we created the first SHA1 collision", "Making Diversity a priority", chatted to some EPP vendors in the Business Hall and finally spent a good 30 mins checking out the BH NOC and talking to the folks there.
Of the few parties I accepted, I met Kelly Sherdian in person (@kellymsheridan) from Dark Reading and thanked her for her great article, walked past the great Katie Moussouris (@k8em0) which I regret not interrupting her to say Hi now, but all in all I keep it low key due to the up and coming talk.
Thursday came round so quickly. I spent my morning having brunch with an awesome group of women hosted by Caroline Wong (@CarolineWMWong). Thankyou so much Caroline for the invitation, I met and connected with so much talent.
Professionals working at Google, Snapchat, another lady was telling me how she has recently discovered some zero days in an application she was testing. I look forward to her work when it is released. Others that work in recruitment, awareness and education, spoke to another lady about creating a tech program with kids with special needs. Just such a talented bunch of individuals.
The rest of my morning was spent rehearsing and worrying about the non-disclosure part of our blackhat talk. I had heard rumours that our talk was creating quite a stir and almost wished it was an underground presentation. In the end, my partner and I decided to keep it anonymous as there was some legal stuff happening in the background that he wanted to resolve. Thanks to EFF who were amazing, I still hope to be open about everything at some point in the future.
It was 3pm and Mike and I headed to the speakers room. I felt like Mike and Sulley from Monsters Inc preparing to hit the scare floor 🙂 At 3:50pm it was time.
The room was large and I saw a lot of people standing. I wanted the talk to be humourous at the start but then provide enough technical detail for my audience to know where to start and what to look for when they engage in these conversations.
Other than the video display issue we had initially, I felt the talk went well. It was such an overwhelming experience and an emotional roller coaster. Being the perfectionist that I am, I wanted everyone to walk away feeling that they are learnt something and they could use and re-create from the work we had done.
After the talk, I felt honoured to have a line of people wanting to talk to us. I
was also bombarded with 30 or so emails to which I am still trying to get back to every single one of you. In the end as many of the questions were the same, I decided to create a GitHub repo where I could put all our work and people could download/clone and use it for themselves. What a Day! Needless to say I bombed out!
Back into it Friday morning I had the absolute pleasure of presenting at the first ever Diane Initiative (@DianaInitiative ) conference at Caes
ars Palace. Although a small group, we all just wanted to listen and share experiences, not to criticise, but to be better for ourselves and our careers. I loved that the mix of people was balanced and I hope to make it out there again next year.
Sincere congratulations to all the organisers and volunteers for a con that almost didn't happen. Also, finally thanks to all the people who helped me in my research for my talk, it would not have happened without your help.
Although I didn't get opportunity to attend BSides LV or DefCon due to family commitments, they are definitely on my ToDo list for next year. For this little Aussie, attending this was such an great experience and I know Mike and I want to personally thank the BH Review Board and others involved for believing in our work and of course of the support of the audience who attended, positive and negative, we all have something to offer.
Please reach out to me I haven't gotten back to you.
Be passionate, believe in yourself and your ideas and live your dreams.