DEF CON always seemed like a far off dream for me. The stories I heard from others about the infamous Hacker conference thrilled me and scared me. I recently made my debut on the Information Security circuit due to friends kicking me out from my secret hideout. I am not even kidding. I made it for 10 years to go undetected and stay hidden. I found the quiet of my own company very supporting for growth but only to a point. I was now ready to put myself out there. I decided on the advice or should I say strong persuasion of my friends to submit three CFP at three villages.
This, however, did not get me to DEF CON. I was introduced to the owner of Source of Knowledge which was Michael whom I met at an event in South Africa – Bsides Cape Town. He offered me work in exchange for access to the event. I eagerly took this opportunity as it aided to get me closer to a dream come true. This being my first DEF CON I did my research, I was afraid and I was worried.
Soon these were not the emotions that I focussed on. Surprisingly I got two talks accepted one at IOT Village and another at the Biohacking Villages. Now I added more stress and pressure to my first visit to the largest Hacker conference. Some would thing putting together slide decks are easy well it takes a lot of time. I started working on my two slide decks immediate. I was going to Vegas.
My first DEF CON also saw me volunteering as a Goon. This means that I had an added responsibility that most first-time DEF CON goers do not have. I was also presenting two talks which some would find somewhat controversial. I got my plane tickets sorted my bags packed. I was going to Las Vegas. I soon realised that the feeling of acceptance and belonging was huge at DEF CON. I met people whom I looked up to and never thought I would meet. One stands out from the rest and that is GMark and White-Board, I got to hang out with Goons from SOC and NOC. I was probably a nightmare for my SOC-Goon friends to handle I am not called a Pixie for anything. If there is mischief to be had believed me I will have it. I wish I could name all the Hackers that changed my life and opened a new world to me at DEF CON 26.
I finally found my place of belonging, I found a place a family who accepted me for who I was. Some may think that Gooning is easy, I soon realised that there is a lot of work that goes into an event of this size. If you see a Goon in a red shirt buy them a coffee and give them a thank you. We work long hours and we walk miles. DEF CON is for sure what you make of it. There is the 3-2-1 rule which is a rule to live by, at least three hours of sleep, two showers and at least one meal. This is like the bible of DEF CON. Also, the rule of do not be an asshole is a very important rule. We are all there to have fun, no need to be an asshole unless you want red shirts to come down on you. We all should respect each other.
DEF CON is a place for acceptance, family and awkward hugs.