In my first year of security cons, and sharing them with the world, it means a lot to pen this tribute to BSidesTO, the one in my hometown. Hitting its stride in its third year, tickets sold out in advance, there was an excellent roster of speakers, and I was thrilled to be selected.
Let me start with kudos and congratulations to the small but powerful organizing team who put together a terrific event and made themselves readily available. The venue was packed with an appreciative audience of over 160 security folk who engaged each of the speakers in lively question and answer sessions following their talks. And yes, there was such a thing as a free lunch, which was served up with smiles by the BSidesTO team. They even arranged a movie to end the session, for those not already engaged in the post-con convos. If anything went awry, it wasn’t evident.
Given that our space was full to bursting, and that Toronto is Canada’s largest city, and one of the largest cities in North America, I think it’s time we had a major hacker con, along the lines of ShmooCon, GrrCon, or DerbyCon. Because it isn’t a corporate event, BSides has that potential, and has established itself as a much-loved, homegrown series of security cons that started in the US and have been spreading because of the community they build and the innovation and exploration they encourage. It’s where the security community shares their hacks to learn, to improve, and to make the world a safer place. I really look forward to participating again next year, and to getting involved.
Unfortunately, that isn’t always how hacking is perceived. This past year brought us the short-sighted Wassenaar agreement, which would penalize those who hack to protect, and several governments working to ban encryption. But someone has to scrutinize the ever-growing devices added to the Internet of Things; to dissect the code that builds the websites we are all accessing. Decision makers need us to give them regular reminders that hackers watch over all the connections we make, and that they serve as our early warning security system.
Which is why having a local BSides really matters – it fosters the free exchange of ideas and supports this community in their varied approaches to security. Because as the impact of breaches continues to increase, and average users discover the extent of their vulnerability online, the world needs to know that hackers are here – for good.