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It’s Time for your First Security Conference

So, you're new to the computer security industry. Whether you’re a student, someone who's recently changed jobs or just someone that thinks it sounds neat. Great! Welcome on board and buckle up for the ride. Your first step is to figure out what's already out there, and what better way to do that than to go to a computer security conference.

First of all we need to choose the conference you want to go to. I thoroughly recommend going to as many of these conferences as you can, as they all bring their own flavor and style. As this is your first conference lets restrict the search to conferences in the UK and let’s keep it to the conferences that are the most accessible for people new to the industry.

Conference Name

Price

Audience

BSides (BSides London, Manchester, Leeds)

Free

Some great conferences that share content from some of the best minds in the industry.

Steelcon

£25

A conference that shares very similar content to the BSides Conferences, however, also has great content for younger and family participants.

Securi-Tay

£25

A student focused conference based out of Dundee, Scotland. 

Local DEFCON Meetup (DC4420, DC151, DC441452)

Free

Regular security meetups (normally once a month) where talks are normally tested before the bigger conferences.

So with all of these different types of conferences to choose from, how should we decide which one to try out first? Most conference talks are recorded so it’s worth going to YouTube and searching for talks from previous years at the conference. This will both give you a feel of computer security conferences in general as well as giving you a flavor of talks that are common at each specific conference.

Now you’ve got a conference in mind what's next? Well next it’s time to decide what you want out of the conference. Are you there to network and socialize, learn a new technology or even apply for a new job? All of these are great reasons to go to a conference, however, it’s worth having something in mind before you show up.

Depending on what you want to get up to during the conference will also dictate what you plan for and bring. If you’re looking to network and socialize then it’ll be worth going to the after party that most of the conferences put on, while if you’re looking to learn a new technology or two then it’ll be worth bringing a notebook to jot down some notes.

Next it’s all about reading the schedule before the event. If the conference you’re going to has more than one track then you’ll need to start to pick and choose which talks you go to at each time. Outside of the typical hour long talks some conferences will have a mix of: workshops, lightning talks and rookie tracks for you to choose from.

We now have a conference lined up and we also know the talks that we want to go to. What’s next? Next is all about what we do on the day. One of the best parts of a conference is having the opportunity to meet new people and catch up with old friends. That being the case speaking to people is so important. Be it speakers after their talks or people you’ve shared a workshop with. If you’re not the sort of person to start a conversation out of the blue then that's fine as well. There are some platforms, while still in their infancy like Conference Buddy that can help.

As well as this, most events are always looking for crew. What this means is that you’ll spend most of your time at the event helping with setup, tickets and logistics but it also means that you get a free ticket, access to see a handful of the talks and an opportunity to network and socialize with a bunch of other great people.

All in all I thoroughly recommend checking out a conference for yourself and seeing what really works for you, and don’t forget, have fun!

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