Security BSides

About this episode

The second half of our Day Jobs series is the very first Security Voices episode we recorded: Dave interviewing Jack on the origins, shenanigans and future of BSides. Jack charts the history of the conference from its inception at a rental house in Las Vegas with a couple hundred people to today where Security BSides is a global movement that has eclipsed 500 events (and growing).

One of the most unique aspects of Security BSides is that anyone can create their own event. It is a nonprofit organization that has as its heart a single, potent principle: be good to and for your community. The flexibility of BSides to be molded to the needs of the local community wherever it goes, from Memphis to Riyadh, is a core ingredient of its success. Jack explains how they carefully walk the line of letting each organizer shape their own BSides conference while stepping in only as necessary to lend a helping hand or occasionally correct course when things have come off the rails.

The “just enough” guidance approach extends all the way to allowing new events to change names completely and blossom into different conferences. Security BSides in Phoenix became CactusCon, an event in the Bay Area became Bay Threat and MiSec traces its roots back to a BSides in Michigan. All of these offshoots are not only encouraged but celebrated by Jack and the BSides crew who see this as yet another way of fitting the event to the personality of the local community.

Security BSides often serves as the starting point of open dialogue on critical industry topics such as gender diversity and mental health that the larger conferences only address years later. Jack takes us through the first “Feathers will Fly” session in Las Vegas which served as a meaningful catalyst for future conversations on gender inequality and (the lack of) diversity in cyber security.

We wrap up with Jack musing on the future of BSides and what it could become long past the year 2020.

Meet our guest

Security BSides

Jack Daniel, Co-founder

About Jack

Jack Daniel is a displaced auto mechanic who somehow wandered into technology and security. Jack is a storyteller, mentor, and podcaster; a community builder and co-founder of Security BSides; an infosec historian, creator and maintainer of the Shoulders of InfoSec Project. In his meandering career Jack has held a variety of practitioner and management roles in technology and security for small to mid-sized businesses and for security vendors. Jack formerly put letters after his name but he doesn't anymore; some fell off, others were pushed.