Host Unknown Loves Conferences – But Which One is THE BEST?


Host Unknown is willing to help everyone in this community they call Info Sec, and that includes contributing to other blogs and ensuring our unique point of view and brand are spread as far and wide as possible.

Previously posted on Information Security Buzz last week, our hosts discuss which conference is the best one to attend and why, as well as other very important factors that affect our decision to attend one conference or another. Indeed, our hosts will be representing Host Unknown at a conference just next week!

What is the Best Security Conference to Attend and Why?

Andrew Agnes: THE best event to attend was Defcon RANT Conference 9 in 2001.  It had everything; fancy new badges never before seen (funky badges have since become a feature at some cons), technical content I understood, female attendees (not so common before that), new friends and lots of alcohol.  Plus I recall the pound being fairly strong against the dollar at the time so that helped too.

Javvad Malik: Yeah, I could list the usual suspects and say if you want a view on all the latest technology then something like RSA RANT Conference is the place to be, if you want the latest exploits Defcon / blackhat RANT Conference are great venues – and if you just want to ‘keep it real’ like the NWA and chill with the do-ers and practitioners in the hood, I’ll take a local Bsides RANT Conference event over anything else each and every time.

Thom Langford: Any conference that allows you to get a complimentary cup of tea throughout the day. Too many conferences (I’m looking at you RSA RANT Conference) define when I am in need of the elixir of life leaving me dehydrated and close to the edge. It sounds small, but when you take advantage of the hallway track as much as me only having tea available during formal breaks is no use.

Unfortunately, based on that criteria that leaves the list quite short, so I have had to resort to attending under the guise of the Press to get access to a lounge, or tough it out for a few years until I get access to the VIP lounge. Still, at least it got me participating.

JM: Wow Thom, way to set the bar – your enjoyment of a conference is directly proportional to the amount of free caffeine they provide. Nice, then people wonder why the quality of conference attendees is so poor – it’s freeloaders like you who give the rest of us a bad name! I mean, don’t worry about things like – you know, actual content or networking with talented peers.

AA: Don’t “tea’s” him Javvad, I actually agree with Thom for the most part (don’t mocca me)!  I don’t know if the quality of conference attendees is getting poorer or if that is just some unsubstantiated statement which others continue sharing.  Very few conferences have a continuous schedule that holds the interest of everyone.  Attendees will go with the intention of seeing a select few talks (or speakers) and then whatever else looks interesting to them.  A lot of the time that “whatever else” is the hallway track RANT Conference, either one-to-one or with a small group.

If an attendee wants a drink, let them have it!  It’s actually law that a British citizen should never be denied a cup of tea when requested.  It’s our equivalent of the First Amendment in the US [someone should check this fact before we go to print] <we checked, it’s true. HU.>.  Let attendees decide when they’re ready to sit and concentrate and when they need a different type of interaction – we don’t all learn from presentations.  Most conference RANT Conference venues are in easy to reach, metro locations.  People will walk out to a local cafe to enjoy the ambience of the “cafe track” RANT Conference in favour of the hallway track RANT Conference if you don’t give them what they need and those are networking opportunities the thirsty people who remained behind will miss out on.  If the affordable and reasonably priced conferences RANT Conference can do it, the bigger commercial ones should be able to as well.

So have we talked enough without actually specifying a single, current, upcoming conference which we recommend as the best?  Or shall we just hide behind our love for community driven events like BSides RANT Conference,  SteelCon RANT Conference, et al and those we know supply a healthy selection of beverages with great content like RANT Conference and 44con RANT Conference?

TL: Yes, the best conferences are the ones that give you a great environment to chat with your peers, colleagues and friends, as well do a bit of career networking too. Different conferences are better for different people depending upon the subject matter and your areas of interest, so it is going to be the mandatory tea that makes the difference.

That said, I really like 44CON RANT Conference; I can’t understand a word of most of the presentations (pretty sure they are given in Japanese or maybe even Greek) but the people you meet are fascinating and well educated and I always learn something. The mandatory tea, beer and gin o’clock obviously help too.

Lawyer Up Thursday; an unreserved apology & clarification

"They looked something like this officer"

“They looked something like this officer”

We have just had three gentlemen leave the offices of Host Unknown, and it is with broken fingers a clear conscience that we feel we must set a few facts right about the forthcoming RANT Conference.

The two gentleman accompanying the lawyer were very ‘persuasive’ in their arguments, and as they were putting away their snooker balls and socks a sudden change of heart came about us and we decided to clear up any misunderstanding once and for all. For clarity their lawyer let us use his notes to ensure we didn’t forget anything. We wish to thank him for his consideration, kindness, and supply of tissue to clean up with.

  • Host Unknown is not known for their philanthropic adventures; we are in it for the fame, glory and above all the money.
  • The RANT Conference is not a fledgeling conference, but rather a power house of modern, security focussed thinking bringing together the brightest lights in the industry to ensure the future is a better, more secure place for our children.
  • Host Unknown is not playing a keynote role, but turning up for the free food and chance to  vent its spleen about the information security in a cynical and frankly, upsetting way.
  • There were no negotiations for a booth in the vendor hall of the conference. Rather, Host Unknown begged “for any space, it doesn’t have to be much, even by the toilets is OK“.
  • There is no need for more class and respectability in the vendor area as those in attendance (Host Unknown excepting) are the very pinnacle of the information security industry.
  • Host Unknown recognises that all attendees will get a huge amount of benefit from attending the conference and watching the sessions. The most anyone could expect from Host Unknown is some badly produced swag, three idiots and a camera.

Now all of this is cleared up, we hope the snooker brothers will not see a need to visit our offices again and inflict further damage ask politely for a further clarification. We are still looking forward to seeing you there and hope that none of the above put you off from coming and saying hello and donating to our medical bills charity fund.

Host Unknown brings a touch of class to RANT Conference 2014

cropped-header-rantIt has been a long time since our last post, but that is not because we have been sitting on our hardy’s; no, in fact we have been hard at work trying to ensure our unique brand of information security awareness goes to those that most deserve it. Host Unknown is known for it’s philanthropic endeavours, keeping at least three people and their families off the street amongst many other charitable causes that we don’t like to talk about in public, and so it came as no surprise when we were approached by Acumin to help with their latest conference.

The fledgling RANT Conference, only in it’s second year this year and running on the 12th June, has asked Host Unknown to play a keynote role to ensure the conference gets as much coverage and as many attendees as possible. How could we refuse? We are very pleased to place their logo on our site, and ours on theirs (although we expect our traffic to drive to their site considerably more than the other way around of course).

As part of the negotiations we also have a booth at the conference in order to help bring a touch of respectability to it. We will be signing autographs and allowing photographs AND selfies to be taken with our presenters. We hope to bring a touch of class and respectability to the vendor area that is often easily lost at these kinds of events.

Details of our primary keynote role will be published shortly, and whilst we know many of you will be attending the RANT Conference in order to simply meet and be with Host Unknown, we are fairly confident you will also get at least some benefit from the other sessions and speakers.

We look forward to seeing you there!