What do you all “really” think of Defcon?

I went to Defcon 2 years ago and had some interesting mixed feelings about the event.

I’m not looking to slag off the event or my time there and equally not to try and convince others to go, I’m just keen to find out if I did the event in the correct way or didn’t fully embrace it.

Rather than writing a review that you can easily google let me provide my pros and cons.

Pros:

Thousands of hackers/sec peeps in one place.
Interesting talks like the 101 track.
Cool swag- all of the goodies and hoodies I could ever want. (Cash only).
Cool venders from music to tech and swag (cash and card).
Meet bloggers that I follow online (mubix)
It’s in Vegas… there is so much to see and do!!

Cons:

It should be called que con… there was about 20 thousand people there.

The talks were good but you can’t get to all the ones you want to due to que’s everywhere. I met someone on the second day who said he don’t go to any and just watched them on youtube…

Vegas, It’s an expensive trip! 10 dollars per bottle of Budweiser! Plus hotel, plus flights I must have spent over £2k (GBP).

So the interesting people… I didn’t meet anyone unfriendly but due to the amount of people I actually felt a bit on my own, I had little idea what I was meant to be doing. Again I was told everyone feels this way the first time…

This year the event is over three locations… I feel like I would be lost even more now.

So have you guys been, what do you think of the event?

Other than BSIDES what events would you recommend?

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Never been to any cons yet but I hear that you don’t go to Defcon for the talks.

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Would love to attend defcon sometime, shame it gets cancelled every year :wink:

I generally watch the talks I am interested in, honestly Vegas in itself is an experience that gets a bit better with exposure and knowing where to stay. It’s very easy for Vegas itself to be quite overwhelming and costly.

Yeah definitely! Also it’s an excuse to get some exercise as it’s about a mile wall to leave your own hotel!

I’m getting the impression not many people I think forum attend many events:grinning:.

*Chuckled at Defcon was cancelled… :joy:

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Well this just came across my Twitter (how timely)…

Hotel security guards are “raiding” rooms and
Searching private belongings and confiscating lockpics.

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@W4K3Y
That is why I always carry spares. Maybe carry a bunch of large paperclips with you, next time you go? Either that or bobby pins. :wink: They can’t take the picks away, if they are not made. Plus I think we all know that they have much more to worry about than lock picks. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

-Archangel

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Yeah this is true. Its just the fact they think its acceptable.

@W4K3Y Honestly, you got to get used to it. We are living in a cruel world. If you have not already, I suggest you take the red pill and see how deep the rabbit hole goes. The governments just follow orders. 2 good questions you should think about are: “Who controls the government?” and “Who does it benefit?”.

Totally get this.

But to stay on track is there any Events that you believe are a must attend?

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I’ve never been, but I’d love to go. I’ve never been to any hacking conventions, actually.

I’d like to not have government officials rummaging through my things though, but considering the last time I entered the United States, I don’t think that’d be possible.

ghost_

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@W4K3Y I have not gone to Defcon yet, plannng to go this year. In answer to your question though…:thinking: Other than attending the Defcon competitions, I would say looking into the Villages. Maybe workshops too if you want to start strengthening your weaknesses. It all depends on the person. Just remember: Knowledge is Power.

Very true.

I think if I was to go again I would just make more of an effort and get more involved.

The lockpick village was very cool…

Defcon is still good, but because of the “villages” there are tons of shitty presentations and speakers now and sometimes the topics aren’t even about computer security at all. it has turned into a side show attraction instead of being a main attraction.

This will sound rather cynical, but here we go anyway:

The con itself, as in the people who attend, speak, run workshops, etc. are fantastic for the most part. I went last year and learned a ton that I was able to immediately bring back to my career. If you crave a community of people who probably think like you, enjoy the things you do and just love hacking in general, DEFCON is a great place to spend several days.

That said, DEFCON as an institution feels somewhat commercialized. Standing in the t-shirt lines, facing some degree of aggression from the Goons about where your badge is (God forbid you forget to take it out of your bag and put it on by accident) and only getting access to SkyTalks if you paid a premium (during which they ask for donations) definitely gives it a surface feel of being more of a business than a gathering around an ideology. I fully understand that they need to make money to keep the thing going and that if everyone walked in and participated without paying, it would die. But there’s something about it that just seems corporate.

All in all, it’s a lot of fun and is mostly what you make it. You don’t have to go to talks. In fact, if I went again, I would spend most of my time in villages and doing challenges - the talks can be found online later.

As a final note, I won’t be there this year for unrelated reasons, but the theme of this year is also an odd departure from the typical dystopian atmosphere that I like (and believe is increasingly becoming our reality). Personal preference, nothing more.

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Thanks for your feedback. Absolutely agree with this.

@fxbg
Sounds like what happened to most good things. Imagine what our future generations are going to be dealing with - that’s going to be hell.
-Archangel

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I have never been to this event. Maybe in the future I will be able to go there. This is because I would like to meet people and make many contacts with the industry. For now, I not even work in it, but in the future for sure.

As for the event itself, it is quite commercialized, but it is the case with every event that I was not only in the cybersecurity industry.

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At the very least, a theme around, “What if we used technology for good?” - a blissful but ignorant question, especially since most of the people attending that conference are generally on the same page about how the powers that be are absolutely not using it (and never really will) for good.

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@yeezi In short, if we used technology for good, then the human race would be evolving at it’s fastest rate to date. It would be a new revolution. If we continued to use tech for good on a steady, but gradual increase we could expect most of the world’s problems fixed temporarily. Maybe even permanently, if there were enough minds at work collaborating together, along with having enough resources. Our future generations would benefit from their ancestor’s generations. You could probably achieve world peace (or at least a state of blissfulness), even though it might take a few generations. Everything has its time and place. I think most of us want tech to be used for good, but then realize the harsh truth - that it probably will not be.
-Archangel

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That’s all fine, I just don’t see the value in pretending that’s the way anything is going to go.