My 1st Experience Attending DEFCON

Considerations Beforehand

        Most people make a job or hobby of something they enjoy. Amongst the plethora of enthusiasts, there is a community of computer lovers. As a person with a great interest in computers, with an emphasis on security, DEFCON quickly reached the top of my bucket list as soon as I heard about it. I wanted to go, but I didn’t want to resemble a lost puppy upon arrival. This predicament left me with the question I had in mind was “How can I prepare for DEFCON?” Personal devices should be left at home or use a VPN and avoid public Wi-Fi hotspots. As for the experience, there is a schedule to help with navigation, but regarding the overall atmosphere and idea behind the event, the “expectations” can get a bit fuzzy.

Diversity in Cybersecurity

        Per Merriam-Webster, ‘diversity’ is defined as “the condition of having or being composed of differing elements.” Diversity is a big part of DEFCON, especially since it encompasses ages, computer-setups, backgrounds, lifestyles, and personalities. Some attendees even had backpacks with wires and antennas leaking through the zippers. Despite the differences in the crowd at the convention, I knew that the population there shared the same appreciation for hacking and/or information security.

Black Hat vs. DEFCON

        During Kingpin’s (Joe Grand) talk “Behind the Scenes of the 27 Badge,” had claimed that a business leader said “I send people to Black Hat to work on specific technology, to become a little bit smarter, to sharpen the knife a little bit more. But I send people to DEFCON to learn, to become better thinkers.” The talk itself was about how the badge was created, but that phrase is what stuck with me the most. The individuals who organize DEFCON work towards including education and inclusivity within their attendees. Between the talks, villages, and the friendly faces in the sea of people, the event is full of information for anyone who attends DEFCON to gain new insight.

The Pursuit of Knowledge within Cybersecurity

        Much like pursuing a career in technology, you must be willing to learn new information frequently in order to keep up. From the perspective of someone who’s new to cybersecurity, it was a highly educational environment to attend. The knowledge gained and the many forms it can be introduced exemplifies the spirit of technology and computer science, and how multifaceted finding solutions can be. If you plan on committing to the journey that is DEFCON, be ready for new experiences and exposure to deep knowledge.

–Miguel Vara
Cybersecurity Technician

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