2017 Cybersecurity Conferences Offer Information and Job Possibilities

Published with Permission by:
Lint, James R., “2017 Cybersecurity Conferences Offer Information and Job Possibilities”, In Homeland Security, 21 July 2017, Web, https://inhomelandsecurity.com/cyber-conferences-offer-information-job-possibilities/

By James Lint
Faculty Member, School of Business, American Military University
Senior Editor for
 In Cyber Defense and Contributor, In Homeland Security

There are many places to find professional development conferences to increase your cybersecurity expertise. In the last week of July, Las Vegas will host three cybersecurity events available to the public at various prices; all three events offer multiple educational programs.

Black Hat Conference

Black Hat 2017, a world-class information security event, will hold four days of technical training courses from July 22 to 25. These courses will be followed by two days of briefings and discussions on topics such as cryptography, data forensics, incident response, exploit development, malware, network defense and platform security. Another current topic is smart grid/industrial security.

Smart grid and industrial security is particularly important to the Department of Homeland Security’s Critical Infrastructure Sectors. These sectors affect all aspects of industrial security that protect our nation’s critical infrastructure.

Black Hat is the most expensive of these three events. The cost for registration for the briefings only is $2,395. Prices for the training courses are based on the type and length of the class. You will often find corporate employees receiving training via Black Hat.

BSidesLV Conference

BSides Las Vegas will take place from July 25 to 26. According to its website, “BsidesLV is a non-profit educational organization designed to advance the body of information security knowledge, by providing an annual, two day, open forum for discussion and debate for security engineers and their affiliates. We produce a conference that is a source of education, collaboration, and continued conversation for information technologists and those associated with this field.”

BSidesLV is free, but a donation is accepted. The lines for conference badges and the event are smaller than at Black Hat and DEF CON events.

One of BSidesLV’s tag lines is “Our presenters do not talk at you, they converse with you.” Attendees average around 2,500 per year.

In addition to its tracks and information security topics, the company also has a track called Hire Ground. BSidesLV provides resume reviews and career planning services, with recruiters and hiring managers on hand from companies such as Amazon and ClearedJobs.


DEF CON is an annual hacker convention that takes place immediately after Black Hat. The number of attendees ranges between 15,000 and 19,000.

DEF CON has many of the same speakers as the other conferences, but at a lower price for the “new to the business” learners. There is a vast spread in the skill set of attendees from well-known hackers to new script kiddies. DEF CON offers speakers and multiple tracks during all four days, with entertainment in the evenings.

But beware — the show does not take checks or credit cards at registration. Cash is the only form of payment because many of the attendees are hackers. DEF CON does not want to be the target of a state or federal legal probe to identify hackers.

“The presence of federal agents at Def Con, declared or otherwise, is nothing new,” wrote The Verge website in 2012. “But on its 20th anniversary, the world-famous hacker conference experienced an interesting first: a keynote speech from the director of a major U.S. intelligence agency.

“Gen. Keith Alexander, head of the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command, addressed thousands of security professionals, hardware hackers and other brilliant computer miscreants during the annual gathering at the Rio hotel in Las Vegas. His mission was obvious: to diffuse long-held tensions, illustrate the common ground between hackers and the government, and ultimately persuade members of the community to use their skills in service to Big Brother.”

What Are the Differences among These 3 Events?

The dress code at Black Hat is more formal, ranging from a sports coat to polo shirts. BSidesLV is often polo shirts to event T-shirts.

Conversely, you can wear anything you want to DEF CON. You will be very comfortable in a T-shirt and jeans, but you would look out of place in a suit.

All three events offer opportunities for job seekers. Many companies meet and hire people at these events.

If You Can’t Attend, Only Some DEF CON Events Will Be Published Online

While there is pay per view on your TV cable provider for some sports and boxing events, there is no pay per view of cyber conventions. In fact, the media is told to not shoot face shots unless they have permission from all faces. This rule is due to the people who operate on the border of legality, in addition to many undercover federal agents and employees who would appreciate not having their photos taken.

Often a few months after the conference, some of DEF CON’s events will show up on YouTube and on the DEF CON webpage.

The bottom line is you do need to attend to get the full impact of the speakers, vendors and other attendees. The networking opportunities at these events are endless. On top of all the great education and networking, it is Las Vegas and everyone has a great time.

About the Author

James R. Lint recently retired as the (GG-15) civilian director for intelligence and security, G2, U.S. Army Communications Electronics Command. He is an adjunct professor at AMU. James has been involved in cyberespionage events from just after the turn of the century in Korea supporting 1st Signal Brigade to the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis as the first government cyber intelligence analyst. He has 38 years of experience in military intelligence with the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Army, government contracting and civil service.

Additionally, James started the Lint Center for National Security Studies, a nonprofit charity that recently awarded its 45th scholarship for national security students and professionals. James was also elected as the 2015 national vice president for the Military Intelligence Corps Association. He has also served in the Department of Energy’s S&S Security Office after his active military career in the Marine Corps for seven years and 14 years in the Army. His military assignments include South Korea, Germany and Cuba, in addition to numerous CONUS locations. In 2017, he was appointed to the position of Adjutant for The American Legion, China Post 1. James has authored a book published in 2013 “Leadership and Management Lessons Learned,” a book published in 2016 “8 Eyes on Korea, A Travel Perspective of Seoul, Korea,” and a new book in 2017 Secrets to Getting a Federal Government Job.”

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