From Rookie Speaker To Mentor To Track Organiser – My BSides Journey

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In any profession it pays to actually enjoy what you do. Granted there will be days when you just want to escape somewhere and sell mangos on the beach but on the whole you like what you do and you try to take part in activities associated with your field of work. With the likes of Microsoft, Facebook and Google paying out large bug bounty’s it really does pay off.

In the information security field there are lots opportunities for an individual to get involved and take part and make some sort of contribution. Last year I did something I’d always wanted to do, something that I thought would be worthwhile, and registered as a rookie on the BSides London 2013 Rookie Track (https://www.securitybsides.org.uk/).

This track is aimed at anyone who hasn’t spoken at a conference before. You could be a seasoned security professional or someone who has just entered the field. Either way, it is the best way to get yourself out there, make friends and have a really good time. The track has a shorter time limit of fifteen minutes, if you choose you can be matched up with a mentor and the talks are held in a nice friendly environment-no big auditoriums. Those are for when you become an InfoSec Rockstar!

My own presentation was about how we, as security professionals, need to create more engaging and effective information security awareness programmes. It went better than I had anticipated. Nobody walked out, I got a few laughs (intentional ones) and even a few questions at the end.

I got a lot of good feedback from my talk, made new friends and the whole Rookie Track process inspired me to want to present again. However, what I hadn’t planned on was actually being invited to speak somewhere. This is exactly what happened when Kai Roer (@Kairoer) from The Roer Group invited me to speak at the Cloud Security Alliance annual chapter meeting in Oslo.

After having had such a good time last year I wanted to contribute to BSides London 2014 rather than just be a part of the audience only. So this year I will be taking part in the mentoring programme. A work colleague took an interest in BSides and asked if I could mentor him. I had gained a lot from the experience so I said “Yes!” I will also be volunteering to help run the Lightning Track with a couple of fellow ex-rookie track speakers, Anne Wood (@fairycakepixie) and Diarmaid McManus (@hacors).

This track doesn’t have a Call for Papers (CfP) so if your talk wasn’t selected for one of the main tracks, or if on the day an idea strikes you like a bolt of lightning (see what I did there) then this is the track for you! The minimum talk time is 10 minutes and the maximum 20 minutes. To top it all up I’m pondering on submitting to the full track for this year’s CfP! If I do and people vote for it I’m going to be busy on the day, either way it’s going to be fun!

There’s a moral to this story. It’s simple. Take part!

Mo Amin | www.infosecmo.blogspot.co.uk | @infosecmo

Having started out in the world of desktop support I moved in to information security by chance. I have a broad range of experience from operational security through to consultancy and one of my main interests is in security awareness.


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