First Conference

Congratulations, you are going to your first conference!

That is exciting.

I have worked with friends to compile the following advice for your consideration.

Please note the below is from the point of view of a female and as such may seem "overkill" to those who aren't regularly concerned. Conferences I do not believe are any more unsafe than normal day to day life, but they put a lot of normally unsafe activities (meeting new people, being away from home, drinking, parties) in a very small period of time.

New to infosec, need help finding a local conference?

General Conference

  • @MisterGlass "I always pack an extra charge of clothes." (In case things get spilled on you, delayed flight...)
    • This remind me, pack an extra day of medications too!
  • Don't forget to eat, sleep, and drink water
  • If it's large (DEF CON, Gencon, DragonCon, etc) wear comfortable shoes or have slip-on to change into
  • Please shower
  • @MisterGlass "I would also advise people attending longer cons to escape for a bit. Remember you're traveling, so go to a restaurant, take a museum tour, do something to escape the con for a few hours."
  • @fredrichmaney "Always have at least one (appropriate for the venue) change of clothes in your carryon when traveling in case your checked bag gets lost or delayed. You can always find toiletries, but replacing clothes is hard/expensive."
  • JamSplat "If it's your first conf; reaching out online beforehand to find people to meet up with can help you feel less bewildered and lost when you arrive. Try asking the con hashtag for icebreaker meetups, etc."
    • Also see if there is an official chat channel for the conference in advance (IRC, message board, Slack, Discord, hashtag on twitter, etc.)

Gaming Conference

  • Test walking, sitting and eating in your cosplay before the event
  • Don't forget pencils and paper! Consider blank character sheets and a folder.
  • Don't forget your dice
  • You can't do everything, and there will be time you need to get from one building to another so be careful when booking events back to back

Hacker Conference

  • Find out if the talks are recorded. The networking opportunities, workshops, and events can't be replicated at home, if the talks are recorded you can watch them later!
  • Tons of people will drink, you do NOT have to.
  • Ask questions if you don't know, many people are willing to share their knowledge. Some are assholes, you don't want to know them anyway.
  • If it's large you probably can't do everything, pick your one major thing you want to do each day
  • Bring a backpack for swag, and leave room in your suitcase too or bring a collapsible bag you can check,
  • Pack wires and battery packs
    • never trust chargers anywhere, or wires
  • Bring a notebook and pencil
  • Pack or buy from a grocery store water and snacks
  • Try and use cash, or a card you don't care if you need to cancel (a travel credit card that doesn't have lots of automatic things, and will be easy to monitor)
    • Consider turning off "tap" payment
  • Consider most people know you online, make your avatar or handle something you can wear if you wish to be recognized
    • Name badge - like mine (name, twitter handle, twitter avatar)
    • Embroidered Patch with handle
    • Pin with avatar
    • Shirt or patch with avatar
    • Consider making your avatar your face
  • I generally skip business cards
  • Have a ham radio license, bring your gear!

DEF CON specific

  • Dr. Russ's guide to DEF CON prep
  • Don't use the ATMs (DEF CON)
  • If it is DEF CON visit SkyTalks our stuff isn't recorded
  • Before the event go off-site and buy lots of water and snacks. Get gallons of water and fill your own water bottle or camelback. They have water dispensers around Defcon but a personally don't like the water in those it's very minerally.
  • On a budget?
    • Consider trying to do both Breakfast and lunch form things you get on a grocery run. You can get some good cheap dinners in vegas.
    • Because I drink I budget myself at $100 a day that includes any swag etc etc
    • You can definitely get by on like 50 or 60 if you're going to drink stuff cheaper or hit the vendor parties
    • I tend to use the free shuttle buses to get around from property to property or do a lot of walking.
    • I bring cash for the defcon badge, and the cash I plan to spend, and one card i lock in the safe and can cancel if it gets compromised and that has no recurring payments on it. It helps keep me to a budget and avoids issues.
    • If you go to a liquor store you can just carry around a hip flask and spike your own drinks instead of paying for drink prices
  • Advice thread: @l0stkn0wledge
  • A great thread including fashion and clothes!
  • Thread:
  • DEF CON main stage (also known as main line, defcon, DEF CON, Def Con, DC) is the parent event. There are Calls for many things such as - workshops, presentations, parties, villages, meetups and more. Once a call is complete there is a sanctioned person or event (like a village) that gets space and some basic support to occur as a sub-event at DEF CON but run/organized by its own group of people. These people then run their own Call For X’s as needed.
    • Sanctioned events require a def con to badge to enter. Although many villages do have their own badges I believe as sub-events they can't require them.
    • What does this mean? There are def con workshops, and there are workshops by the villages, there are main stage speakers, village speakers, etc.
    • Meetups there can be official ones which def con gives space, and unofficial. Official requires a badge. Although hosted at and part of def con again they are run independently.
    • Parties, There are official mainline parties, Village parties, Unofficial people and group run parties, Off-site vendor parties. Official and village require def con badges. Unofficial have their own rules.
    • When you register for def con workshops you may not be registering for all possible workshops, Check each villages information for how to register for their workshop if needed. Please note def con workshops sell out VERY fast.
    • This event is huge, thousands of people, This has resulted in this current complicated setup and why people might correct you on a term you use, because with all it's complexity it is important to be precise so everyone can be speaking the same language as much as possible.
  • Hacker Summer Camp
    • There are events that run before def con (bsideslv, black hat) that are independent and separate, they are in different locations, different badges, etc.
    • There are events that run in parallel and are independent (Diana initiative, narwhal be, def con shoot, toxic bbq).
    • There are independent events that used to be a village or meetup (QueerCon) but are now independent.
    • The collection of all of this is generally called “hacker summer camp”.
  • Badge life
    • People used to make badges to learn it show off hardware skills, Some still do.
    • But in many cases now everyone has a badge to sell to help raise funds or to do cool things. Many get you access to that villages events with perks (early to party), some have no perks at all.
    • You will see people wearing insane numbers of badges around as a result.

YOLO Devices ("Burner Devices") < read more by clicking the link

You may want to do a safety assessment - and consider the following whenever traveling:

General Packing:

  • Will it, or any activities be outside? Check the weather you might need
    • Sun hat
    • sun screen
    • bug spray
    • coat / jacket / sweater
    • bathingsuit and coverup
  • How much walking?
    • Sneakers? extra cushy insoles (happy feet)
    • Just normal flats?
    • Dress shoes? (Check out #HackerSwan)
  • Food considerations for event or hotel room
    • water bottle?
    • snacks?
  • Swag considerations
    • extra bag for swag or extra space
    • do you know you will get a shirt? pack one less.

2019 hacker summer camp packing