BSides London: For the Community, by the Community

May 29, 2015
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2 min read

Infosecurity Europe in London is coming up quickly. But Infosecurity isn’t the only show in town this year: The fifth annual BSides London will also take place June 3, 2015. As one of the largest security conferences on the continent, Infosecurity Europe is one of the events many security professionals on this side of the Atlantic try to attend. Not nearly as many people know about BSides London, but those who have been before look forward to it at least as much as they do Infosecurity Europe, if not more. The fact that both are happening side by side only fuels the anticipation of being in London for the first week of June.

About the Conference

Started in the summer of 2009 alongside the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas, BSides is part of a movement that aims to bring quality speakers to an audience that might not get a chance to attend bigger — and often more expensive — conferences. Due to a variety of factors, there were many speakers turned down at Black Hat that year, and the community collectively decided that they still wanted to hear the rejected sessions. While the details of the origin story may vary, the basics are that a house was rented, anyone who wanted to speak was invited and anyone who wanted to attend was accepted.

Since then, BSides has become a series of small, community-run conferences. Frequently, the events occur alongside other, larger symposiums; almost as often, however, they happen in areas that have a concentration of security professionals but no major gatherings nearby. There have been well over 100 BSides events in the past five years, ranging from the largest annual conferences in Las Vegas, San Francisco and London to far-flung events in areas like Rhode Island, Vienna, Sao Paulo and Cape Town, South Africa.

BSides: For the Security Community

Why should you take the time to attend BSides? Whereas most security events are about putting vendors and the companies buying their products face to face, these community-led events are about getting security professionals in contact with one another. The people giving the talks are chosen by the community, and many are first-time speakers. They are there because they’re excited about security and want to share ideas with others. BSides is an opportunity to meet with other security professionals, extend your social networks and see research and presentations that often won’t be shared anywhere else. And if you’re looking to recruit new members for your own team, the conference is an opportunity to find people who are strongly engaged with security and its community.

More than anything, BSides is about the security community. The London event is a great example of that sentiment. Even before last year’s conference had closed, there were security professionals working nights and weekends to make this year’s event possible. The conference itself is free to attendees, sponsored by companies like Tenable, MWR Infosecurity and KPMG, but it’s the volunteers who make everything happen.

One last security event that’s running concurrently is the European Security Blogger Awards. The best security bloggers, podcasters and vloggers will be recognized by their readers, listeners and watchers. Voting is open until May 29, so you might be able to help get your favorites recognized.

Security conferences offer a wonderful opportunity to share ideas, pose important questions and challenge others within the professional community. For the past five years, BSides has provided an outlet for all this and more, and its momentum doesn’t seem to be slowing any time soon.

Martin McKeay
Security Advocate

Martin McKeay is a Senior Security Advocate at Akamai, joining the company in 2011. As a member of Akamai's Security Intelligence Team, he is responsible for...
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