Hacker Summer Camp

When I took the Women’s Society of Cyberjutsu Hack-A-Pass CTF earlier this year, I was hoping to possibly make it to DEFCON. Since I made it to DEFCON last year thanks to Day of Shecurity, I wasn’t really counting on making it. However, I was one of the lucky winners of the CTF, and I was really excited to go.

The thing that some people may not consider about conferences is the toll that it takes when it comes to your day job. Some people have it lucky, where their companies will send them to Black Hat and DEFCON, and some folks don’t get any support at all and have to come on their own dime and their own time. I was in the middle, being allowed to go to DEFCON without having to take PTO this year.

Justifying conferences aside, let’s fast forward to Hacker Summer Camp.

The Las Vegas heat was dry, and I was wondering how the grasshoppers survived the week before. I was particularly disappointed to not really see any grasshoppers on the Strip, although slightly relieved since I’m not a big fan of too many bugs. I arrived just in time for the Wicked6 Cyber Games at the Luxor, where I met ladies from WSC as well as the other CTF winners. Witnessing the Cyber Games was definitely interesting to watch, but admittedly I wasn’t completely sure I was following everything that they were doing. I’ve never seen such an event like Wicked6 before. Aside from the random Google searches, multiple choice quizzes, and the Metasploit commands, I guess I wasn’t able to follow much. The teams competing were definitely training hard for that moment, and kudos to them. Maybe someday I can try out some of the challenges as well.

I went to both Diana Initiative and DEFCON, going through 4 different hotels. I scheduled my talks accordingly using the Hacker Tracker, allotted some time to walk between event spaces, and coordinated with different groups on Slack to keep up with the latest news.

If you’ve never heard of the 3-2-1 rule that’s been heavily recommended at DEFCON, you’re supposed to have at least 3 hours of sleep, 2 meals, and 1 shower. The shower and sleep is definitely a must, but the meals are a little harder to coordinate when the events you’re going to are back to back. Luckily I had a water bottle that I was refilling every now and then, and there was a pizza place at the Paris hotel that I could grab a to-go slice to eat along the way.

Overall I was able to go to a few really cool Skytalks. I was also able to get to some inspiring, informative, and relevant Diana Initiative talks. I was able to make it to some other talks in various villages, including the one by Katelyn Bowden from the BADASS Army.

My key takeaways from the event aren’t just about stuff that are relevant to my job (and career) which is important, but also the fact that there are so many things we can do as InfoSec professionals, or as people with certain skills, really. There’s so many good things that we can do in the world such as combat harassment and abuse. There are many things that we can do better to take care of ourselves and others, and that we should take time to appreciate these things in life. Community can help us see through things, and I’ve personally found it beneficial to reach out and network to others. If anything, I would love to continue to be a conduit and connect people, resources, efforts, and ideas.

The bonuses I think would be the fact that I got a few beginner’s soldering kits including this really cute Fluffy McGlitter Sparkle soldering kit (see https://biascilab.com/solderingkit). I was also able to get a good discount from No Starch Press for prizes at the next Women Who Code Manila event. I was able to meet familiar and new faces, including a group of Filipino InfoSec people. Most of all, I was able to fit in massages and spa treatments to my busy Hacker Summer Camp schedule. I highly recommend to others to find time for that.

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