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The Security 'Unconference' In Vegas

Most of the security action happening later this month will be in Vegas' Caesars Palace and the Riviera Hotel, where Black Hat USA and Defcon will convene. But at a rented house at a thus-far undisclosed location a few miles off of the Las Vegas Strip, a handful of hackers will host SecurityBSides, a homegrown "unconference" alternative to the more structured format of Black Hat.
Most of the security action happening later this month will be in Vegas' Caesars Palace and the Riviera Hotel, where Black Hat USA and Defcon will convene. But at a rented house at a thus-far undisclosed location a few miles off of the Las Vegas Strip, a handful of hackers will host SecurityBSides, a homegrown "unconference" alternative to the more structured format of Black Hat.SecurityBSides was created as an alternative venue for research talks that were either rejected by Black Hat or just not submitted. It's a free, participant-driven, informal get-together where security researchers will share their thoughts -- and bring their own beer. Jack Daniel, one of the event organizers, says Black Hat can't accept all of the new talks and research it receives, which was one of the reasons SecurityBSides was conceived.

It's not a protest or direct competitor to Black Hat, he says, although there is overlap between the two events. SecurityBSides is scheduled to run July 29 to 30 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., so attendees will have to decide whether to leave Caesars to attend talks at the SecurityBSides hacker house. "We're gambling because we don't know who is going to show up," Daniel says.

Think of SecurityBSides as providing some structure for those lucrative "side conversations" security folk thrive on at confabs like Black Hat, RSA, and Defcon. Another unconference, Neighborcon, is co-hosting the event.

The final program will be decided by vote, but among the topics submitted so far: why we rely frameworks and governments to secure networks; an inside look at the rogue antivirus economy; and a panel discussion on the professional image and gender issues for women in the security industry.

But even these informal, noncorporate gathering require money, so SecurityBSides is relying on and looking for -- you guessed it -- some corporate sponsors.

-- Kelly Jackson Higgins, Senior Editor, Dark Reading

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