The ITWeb security summit is coming up next week from the 11th to 13th of May. This is a conference we’re quite excited about, and have been involved in for the last few years, but most recently, we’ve been able to further our involvement beyond just speaking.
For years I jealously watched as SensePost’ers would trundle all over the world shaking hands and drinking beer with the leet haxors of the world. Then a few years ago, the ITWeb Security Summit brought over Kevin Mitnick. I remember sitting in the audience awe’d not so much by what was said (sorry Kevin, I’m sure it was interesting) but at the fact a real celebrity hacker was meters from me. I still keep his lock-pick business card as a memento. Since then, the summit has gotten bigger and better. ITWeb previously brought out people like Bruce Schneier (who I think thought I was a stalker), David Litchfield, Johnny Long (he’s African now), Johny Cache, Richard Stiennon, Roberto Preatoni and Phil Zimmerman (he video conf’ed in from his hospital bed after emergency heart surgery).
While meeting some of the international speakers was awesome, there was always a feeling that the conference was too vendor dominated. To help remedy this, last year SensePost was asked to put together a technical committee. SensePost’s guidance on international speakers had an immediate effect and last year we had a ton of hacker rock stars: Jeremiah Grossman, Window Snyder, Adam Shostack, Mike Dahn, Tyler Moore, Frank Artes, Phil Zimmerman (this time IRL) and even The Gruq washed himself and made it over. In addition to the international speakers, the technical committee (which I was lucky enough to be part of) evaluated and voted on all talks, with the ability to vote out sponsor talks if they weren’t up to scratch. While we had some teething problems (for example we weren’t able to review all final presentations in detail) and made a mistake in trying to fit more speakers into a “turbo track”, I feel the quality of the conference improved significantly.
After the conference, one of the awesome memories was the “Hackers on Safari” trip we took the international speakers on (and some of the technical committee, if they agreed to do dishes). It proved to be a really great way to “sell” South Africa to the international speakers. As we watched a battery of cameras synchronously snap many pictures of the “the asses of Africa” (the animals kept turning their back on us), we were reminded what a great place South Africa is.
This year is looking even better than last. There’s a solid line up of international speakers: Kingpin, Moxie, Charlie Miller, FX, Dino Dai Zovi, Saumil Shah, Nitesh Dhanjani & Jeremiah Grossman. In addition, a third track has been created for security products with the other two focusing on the technical and business aspects of security respectively. We should see a lot of quality South African talks. Unfortunately, some promising talks and speakers had to be dropped to make space, but hopefully this is an indicator of higher quality and popularity rather than poor judgement.
Additionally, this year on the 13th of May @7pm (the last day of the conference) there is a hacker’s party organised by our local unconference ZaCon (for full details follow the link), which is within walking distance from the conference venue. The party’s aim is to raise funds for Hackers for Charity, with voluntary donations of R50 being asked, and HFC shirts for sale. Hopefully it will also provide a chance for members of the local scene who are unable to afford ITWeb tickets the ability to meet some of the international and local speakers.