Home > Event, InfoSec > A Northern Geek’s Trip South – 2019 edition

A Northern Geek’s Trip South – 2019 edition

How time flies; and with it, another BSides London is a long distant memory.

My itinerary for the pilgrimage South was familiar, mostly following a well worn pattern

  • InfoSec Europe Tuesday
  • BSides itself Wednesday
  • Thursday? Recovery time in the capital, before heading for the train back to (my) civilised society.

And throughout: a generous smattering of catching up with ex-colleagues as the whole industry descends on the capital. I’ll not embarrass (or incriminate) those by name, but you know who you are, was good to see you all, and must do it all again soon

Tuesday – InfoSec Europe

InfoSec is what it is; was a good excuse to meet contacts at various vendors and partners for the first time, and catching up with some old contacts.

The conference hall felt like it had been hit by austerity; less crowded than previous years, fewer ‘booth babes’ (not a bad thing, maybe vendors are finally getting the message, and vendor swag? still available, but the good stuff seemed to be under the table, given out at discretion rather than just a free-for-all grab as attendees did the rounds.

Wednesday – BSides London

What’s not to like? This year topics were as varied as ever, with all sessions I attended being top-draw. Very briefly:

PowerGrid Insecurities
for reasons that make sense if you were there, this talk wasn’t recorded but WAS very informative. I now know to be more wary of squirrels than terrorists when it comes to outages on the power grid. And I may, unfortunately, now be able to explain the random tape from old-school cassettes I found around the local substation…..
A Safer Way to Pay – Card Payment Infrastructure
Chester provided a great overview of both the current, and future, state of card payment infrastructure. If you’re involved in financial transactions, PCI audits or similar this talk covered some of the background tech and networks involved.
Fixing the Internet’s Auto-Immune Problem – BugBountys and Responsible Disclosure
Debates and topics around disclosure, responsible or otherwise; are always interesting. Chloe’s take on the current legalities, and more importantly what is going to be needed in the future to provide a safe and stable foundation for non-contracted testers definitely did a good job of expressing the views of one side of the debate, and kickstarting some interesting conversations in LobbyCon.
When the Magic wears off – ML
Firstly, an admission: I ended up in this talk by accident after getting my track numbers confused. That said, the talk was interesting; but it confirmed my reasoning for not originally having it on my agenda – I simply didn’t have enough background knowledge in ML to fully understand the content; which was interesting to follow along to, but you’re going to need the analysis for someone in this world to fully explain it to you.
Build to Hack, Hack to Build – Docker (in)security
Docker (and Kubernetes) isn’t something I’ve much real world exposure with (yet: as with everything, it’s on a growing list of side projects I’ve not found time for). Session was a great introduction into the world of container (in)security, and I left with some frameworks and tooling to help bootstrap my future efforts in area – watch this space
They are the Champions – Security Champions
There’s always more security projects, than InfoSec resources in any org; so tips for leveraging the wider business never hurt. Jess always provides a thorough, professional and powerful presentation, but personally I think this was almost to it’s detriment this year, feeling too polished and sales-pitchy for a BSides. Not necessarily a criticism, but I’d prefer a return to singing in Klingon for a memorable talk.
Closed for Business – Taking down Dark Markets
I’ve always found the real-life war-stories of LEA’s taking on various dark marketplaces fascninating, so getting the chance to hear some modern examples in person was definitely high up on my priority list for this year’s sessions. John didn’t disappoint, if you’ve got an hour to kill, be prepared for an interesting journey.
Inside MageCart – Web skimming tactics revealed
This session was one of those talks that manage to bridge the gap between fascinating to me personally, and relevant professionally (helping to convince $employer to fund the trip). Left the talk with a better understanding of the techniques and incidents behind the headlines, as well as some interesting tid-bits around what could be the next evolution of the campaigns. Hopefully enough so to stay one-step ahead of the curve, and avoid being front-page news myself.

CyberRange – OpenSource Offensive Security Lab in AWS
This talk introduced a newly released toolkit for rapidly spinning up, and tearing down, offensive, defensive and vulnerable lab environments in AWS. And who doesn’t like having a packed toolkit of toys to play with, and a safe environment to use them on? – project here
Closing Remarks
This years closing remarks were bitter-sweet: capping off a great and successful day is always good, but came with a new (to me) announcement of a changing of the guard for the team behind BSidesLDN. This inevitable resulted in reminiscing back to events gone by, and as one of the handful at the first BSides London, it is remarkable to see how far the event and community around it has come since the first event in the Skills Exchange.
Thursday – recovery^W PCI Council
I’ve already said my usual itinerary uses Thursday as recovery (I love BSides but it’s one intense day), whilst catching some of the tourist spots on a meander back to KingsX. This year? “your trip to London? You said Thursday was free?” I did…. Off to a half day with the PCI Acquirers group it is.
Will admit I wasn’t looking for to this (the terms PCI, QSAs and auditors trigger my PTSD….), and getting to the (very fancy) venue in jeans, conference tee-shirt and backpacks stuffed for the full weeks trip I was feeling out of place with every other attendee suited and booted. That said, I was pleasantly surprised. All sessions (bar one, will mention no names, but I think the hostess wanted a shepard’s crook to hoist the overrunning speaker of stage) were excellent. So much so, I came back to the office with the suggest that we send colleagues to future events whenever we’re able.
Highlight of the event for me was John Elliot discussing MageCart. As I’d been in a BSides session covering the topic the day before, comparing the perspective of industry with that of those closer to the internals of PCI it self was fascinating. Unfortunately, unlike BSides, the event wasn’t recorded for later consumption; but as luck would have it, John had provided the same talk (in longer form) for a webinar session the week prior, which was recorded – enjoy
Another BSides in the can, until next year
Andrew
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Categories: Event, InfoSec
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  1. 2019/06/30 at 19:54

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