From Elizabeth B.
I just wanted to thank you and the generous sponsors for providing the opportunity to attend Defcon 2019!
As a career changer, I've been attending school full-time, so expenses have been very tight! The sponsorship $$ to attend Defcon not only covered the Defcon ticket, but most of the airfare! Without that, attending Defcon would have been very difficult.
While in Las Vegas, I volunteered at the Wicked6 Games, participated in a pool-side "hacking" party, attended numerous infosec talks, and still managed to get 10,000 steps in (before 11 a.m. no less). I was so excited to be able participate in the training offered in some of the villages and most importantly, being able to connect with so many other women in infosec. I gained over 30 connections on LinkedIn, received a lot of advice on interviews and a ton of encouragement moving forward in this new career.
I'd also like to give a thanks to Mansi who made the rounds all over Las Vegas to ensure that everyone received their Defcon bags -- you rock!
DefCon 27 was awesome! I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Wireshark workshop in the Packet Hacking Village where we were able to deep dive into packet analysis for different methods of nefarious traffic patterns. Funny enough, I’ve already re-used some of these skills in my current role. I also was able to meet the CEO of IOActive, Sunshine Steffens, along with a lot of women in various technical roles, at the IOActive Women, Wisdom & Wine event. The second day, I attended the Functional Programming for the Blue Team workshop which had a primary focus towards using monads in programming. My favorite place to hang out though was the Soldering Village where I was able to solder a badge for the first time. I loved it so much that I am now a proud owner of a soldering iron and hope to customize a badge to show off the next time I attend DefCon.
In addition to taking part in workshops and villages, I was able to track down Riley Eller (Maker of Caezar’s Challenge) and get a few of their puzzle badges. Our team hunkered down and continued to solve each puzzle one by one until it lead to the last clue of a party at the Hard Rock Café penthouse (with its very own bowling lane) where we had a blast! Some of the puzzles were harder than others but fun none the less. The original badge required you to translate the colors to hex then to base10 to get a URL for the first clue. Another puzzle required you to translate out music notes to binary to get a url for another clue just to give you an idea. I would attend DefCon again specifically just to participate in these types of challenges/puzzles! Before I even went to Vegas to attend the conference I was already working on solving the puzzles they released for the DefCon Pre-Scavenger Hunt list!
I want to thank the Women's Society of Cyberjutsu for the opportunity to attend Defcon 27 as a Hack-A-Pass recipient. Being a Hack-A-Pass recipient allowed me the opportunity to meet my fellow Hack-A-Pass recipients, volunteer at Wicked6Games, and attend the 6th annual Cyberjutsu Awards.
As a Hack-A-Pass recipient, I was able to acquire new hacking skills, witness Hacker Jeopardy, attend the Car Hacking, Tamper-Evident, and Crypto & Privacy Village to name a few. I also got a chance to see some of the CTF’s happening around Defcon. Defcon also allowed me the opportunity to connect with new faces as well as reconnect with fellow industry professionals in Cyber Security.
Defcon 27 is an experience I will also treasure as a Hack-A-Pass recipient. I’d recommend anyone interested in Cyber Security or is in the industry to get involved with Women’s Society of Cyberjutsu. It’s a wonderful organization to be a part of as they continue to advance women in Cyber Security.
I can’t thank you enough for providing assistance for me to attend Defcon 2019. I had just started a new job and could not get approval to be able to attend that early on in the role. Going to Defcon allowed me the opportunity to meet other women in infosec and feel the encouragement and support of people at all levels in their career, and to re-connect with people I have met at other conferences but don’t get to see in person often. Feeling like part of a supportive community is invaluable. While I attended several talks, I spent a lot of time in the villages taking to people and engaging with the events. A highlight was volunteering at the Wicked 6 Cyber games and being able to encourage students who were just embarking on their cybersecurity career. Another highlight was participating in the HackerOne Bug Bounty workshop where I got to learn more about hacking websites while sitting poolside on top of a roof with amazing and inspiring women. I learned a lot from this opportunity and made contacts that I have stayed in touch with. I even reached out to someone I met with a job opportunity that I thought would be of interest. Without this funding assistance, I would not have been able to commit to going to Defcon, and I am very grateful for the opportunity.
My experience at the Hacker Summer Camp was epic:
- 4 conferences (won ticket to both DC and BHUSA and found my way into BSidesLV and TDI :))
- 1 full-day workshop attended (packet analysis by the author of malware traffic analysis blog)
- 1 half-a-day official defcon workshop on approach to log analysis (tickets were sold out in <5 min, yet I somehow managed to get it);
- +10 hours of talks
- 1 CTF played at a rooftop bar :D
- 1 badge successfully soldered
- A few hours of volunteer work at the blue team village
- met over 100 people, incl. some I’ve been following on twitter
- got tons of stickers & some goodies (like a mini drone!)
Hack-a-pass was a great enabler to all of the above and it happened thanks to YOU! Thank for your energy and effort that went into making this possible. I'm forever grateful!
Little background info: I used to be a chemist, upon working in the pharmaceutical R&D lab I started to get curious where the data went behind the scene. So I went back to college, took some classes in Network Administration and Server management. Next thing I knew, I went down the cybersecurity rabbit hole. The career transition is a long shot, I don’t work in cyber yet. Currently I am working in IT tech support.
DEFCON 27 was not my first DEFCON, but the first one I was well-prepared, got to know people before and planned ahead. DEFCON is a huge hacker conference with 25000+ attendees and it can be overwhelming for noobs. The first DC I went to, I hardly knew anyone, didn’t know what to expect. I was afraid I might not enjoy. So I just went for Saturday and Sunday, treated it like a Vegas side trip. If I liked it, great, If I didn’t, I would just do other Vegas things. Long story short, I loved it.
So this year I started looking for ways to afford another trip, because I don’t work in a cyber position, I am without company sponsorship. I found out Women’s Society of Cyberjutsu was hosting a Hack-A-Pass CTF. Thanks to WSC, I was able to go to DC27 this year!
The DEFCON experience was elevated to another level. Going with others as a group made it more fun. I appreciated all the information shared in the slack channel prior to the event. From a group I learned about other concurrent events/conferences taking place, such as the Hackerone community day, the Diana Initiative, Through my other local hacker groups and local OWASP chapter I learned and shared more resources. Network ahead and plan ahead were keys to a successful and rewarding Defcon experience.
Going in as a 2nd timer, I set myself some goals for this year: spend more time in the villages, network with others & party hard. As the main talks were recorded and available later online, I regretfully did not attend any in person. Out of all the villages, I enjoyed biohacking, packet capturing and lock bypass the most. I met a ton of people. I did exceptionally well in my party goal. Crashing parties with random people I just met was not something I would normally do. It turned out to be epic fun. For the next DC, there are two goals I have: compete in one of the CTF competitions, and bring my own creations to the sticker swap.
As I had a different background before my cybersecurity journey, I will always feel like a humble noob. The journey has its ups and downs, but it is the friendship I made that keeps me going. I appreciate all the assistance, love and support I got from WSC and everyone I have encountered in my cybersecurity journey. Thank you and see you all at next hacker summer camp! If you are a noob reading this and thinking about going to DEFCON, my advice is to find a group like the WSC to hang out with and just go!