Is the answer more InfoSec Conferences?

In the movie Sneakers, there is a defining moment when Robert Redford rearranges Scrabble tiles to figure out that ‘SETEC ASTRONOMY’ is actually an anagram.
Is the answer more InfoSec Conferences?

With this in mind, I give you: SETEC CONFER MOAN (Yo!) (Click for full size)

Is the answer more InfoSec Conferences? 2

I’m not saying that InfoSec Conferences are bad (although many a battered liver would disagree), but what i am saying is that we don’t seem to be improving our security posture at the same rate as we seem to be growing our conferences. Something is not right here.

Now some people have argued that this is because conferences favor “breakers” over “builders”, but I personally think that this is a red herring. If a builder with half a brain watches an interesting talk on breaking, he will no doubt start pondering useful defensive techniques. I think the problem instead is simply one of too much information. The buildup to every major conference these days includes press releases and tantalizing tweets promising Cyber Armageddon. Some talks come fully equipped with groupies and fans who seem uninterested in the technical content, but want to catch a glimpse of a security rockstar. It’s all a lot of fun, but real-world value? Not so much..

This is not to say that those talks are bad, just that they may not be the ones that should be occupying your thoughts. What’s missing from all this is context, and with more than half the year having some conference running somewhere in the world, all the information turns to noise.

We are hoping to help address this somewhat with ThinkstScapes.

For many, many years customers have been paying us to help them see further down the road with regard to upcoming trends and threats. Major conferences are often followed up with questions of “What did you think of XXX?”. ThinkstScapes aims at answering these questions and more. More importantly, ThinkstScapes aims at raising to the surface the research and happenings that really should be on your mind, that are currently being hidden in the noise.

With a report every quarter, and ad-hoc updates on key InfoSec events during the year, we think ThinkstScapes is an important subscription for anyone who needs to understand whats going on in the Information Security space. (ThinkstScapes)

7 comments On Is the answer more InfoSec Conferences?

  • Secret Conman Foe?

  • This week i had lots of positive comments on the idea, some orders (Thanks!) and a lawyers letter informing me that since “ThreatScape” is a registered trademark, i had to change the name.. I'm not looking for a legal battle, so ThreatScapes is renamed to ThinkstScapes.. (Sorry about any confusion this might have caused!)

  • Hi Anon.The previous reports/work done in this regard were all done for individual customers under general infosec work NDA, which makes releasing older documents not possible.This won't be a problem going forward though, so ill be able to shave a sliver off the next one for a sample.Again though.. I dont necessarily think people should stop attending cons, I just think that ThreatScapes can make the results more useful.

  • Yeah I agree with Signal to noise ratio of cons being low due to too many.. repeated content at some of the cons … Why I go to – Apart from learning cons helped me to discover and meet good/same interest ppl who can help to kickoff a dusted project or new idea..It would be great if you would give a sample report of 2010 which will help us to convince the bosses to invest in this instead of sending group of ppl to cons .. i.e direct ROI If possible if you can add the talk time –> exploit released —> found in the wild —> patch got by vendor type of time lines as the report will EOY report ..that would be fun reading …/ak

  • Hi b00st_Sec.Sure.. there is value in local free events, just as there is value in the big paid for events. (We try hard to contribute to both kinds). Fundamentally though, there is still a problem that as numbers rise, we risk losing the signal due to the high numbers. In this respect, ThreatScapes aims at being a filter, without disrupting the rest of the ecosystem.

  • There probably is too many large scale InfoSec cons but I would argue that we should have more BSides style cons that are free and open. If the goal is to further the cause then the free localized event has the potential to have the most impact. A free event marketed right will attract people who wouldn't normally make their way into a Blackhat/RSA type of conference. If you have the ability to change the way one user thinks about security then isn't it worth it? Just my .02 cents

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