July 920_sec Meetup
Last night was the second gathering of 920_sec, the monthly Information Security meetup network for NE Wisconsin infosec professionals, IT professionals interested in learning more about security related topics, Researchers, Hackers, and all things in-between!
The meetup happened at The Bar Holmgreen Way in Green Bay. When I arrived at close to the listed start time of 5:30 PM, the meetup organizer and one other participant were sitting at a large table between the front door and the pool tables. Between 10 and 15 people came to the meetup, with some of them showing up pretty close to 5:30 and others straggling in between 6:30 and 7 PM. If you thought about coming but decided not to because you could get there fairly close to 5:30, no worries. Just show up whenever you can make it. I think the people who arrived at 7 PM enjoyed themselves just as much as those who got there close to the listed start time.
As of July 14 there are 28 people registered for the 920_sec meetup group, and 8 had RSVPd for last night’s event. Most people seemed to be from the Green Bay area, but Appleton and Milwaukee were also represented. As word spreads about the group, we should be able to get people participating from a variety of NE Wisconsin cities. The first few meetups will likely be in Green Bay because that’s where the group organizer lives and where a majority of participants are located. If there is significant interest in the Appleton and the Fox Valley, 920_sec might schedule a meeting there.
There was no agenda last night, just talking with the people sitting near you, getting to know each other a little or catching up with those you already knew, chatting about random topics, and telling war stories or tall tales whilst swilling water, soda, and beer and eating supper or munchies (mozzarella sticks were my favorite). Last night was strictly a social gathering. It was fun to meet some new hard-core geeks from NE Wisconsin and hear what things they were working on or interested in.
Future 920_sec Meetups
I’m looking forward to seeing what happens at the next several meetings. The format of future 920_sec meetups will no doubt take a few months and a number of side conversations to figure out. The group has a lot of really smart people in it, but they’re also busy people, so they’ll have to find significant value in the meetup if they’re going to add another event to their already-full schedules. That’s a perennial problem for Meetup.com groups and for member groups in general. Some of the group’s members may just want a social gathering, while others might prefer a short presentation followed by group discussion, an informative talk, just an organized group-discussion about a high-interest infosec topic, or other type of coordinated group activity.
The meetup organizer, with input from group members who strongly prefer specific types of meetup activity, will need to decide whether to push the group toward one meetup format or a combination of formats. Then the group members will decide if they get value from that type of infosec meetup, and they’ll vote yea or nay with their feet. A few topics that a coordinated group activity could involve are:
- Security challenges or incidents related to NE Wisconsin companies
- Security incidents outside NE Wisconsin
- Open source security practices
- 920_sec organizing an infosec event for local organizations or general public
- Meet onsite at NE Wisconsin companies (w/ food and beverages sponsored and delivered)
- Invite lead security people from NE Wisconsin companies to talk to the group or to discuss a security challenge with the group to get their input
- Group members sharing infosec skills in demo or workshop
- Discuss and work on an infosec presentation topic for a NEWDUG meeting, NEWCodeCamp, at a school or university, or to local organizations
- Ethical hacking session
- Practice CTF wardriving in preparation for Cyphercon
- Acceptable-risk variant of walll of sheepishness to demonstrate mobile device insecurity at a public meetup location
- Distributing Playboy flash drives in random parking lots
- Building well-designed Unsubscribe buttons to get high click-through rates
- Security-related Pokémon Go outing
Connecting The NE Wisconsin Infosec Community
I’m not an infosec practitioner, just a tech enthusiast who is aware of some of his shortcomings in the area of security knowledge and practices, a tech community builder and events wrangler who sees value in a connected NE Wisconsin infosec community, and someone who is working on a major initiative which has a foundational need for strong security. There is also a second major initiative I’ve proposed which has infosec as its primary focus. It would be fantastic if that initiative could get some traction, but the project requires a lead infosec person with a passion for improving the overall security of organizations and residents in NE Wisconsin.
There are probably 100 to 500 NE Wisconsin people who didn’t show up last night who are responsible for infosec in area organizations or who are or would like to be (think “students”) involved in security as a personal interest. Seems like at least 25% of them would want to connect and participate in periodic meetups. So that’s at least 25 more people, and possibly 100+, who should know about the 920_sec meetups!
The dual challenge ahead for the group is (1) to develop a high-value meetup format and culture and (2) to make all the right people in NE Wisconsin aware of 920_sec.
Tickets are scheduled to be available starting August 1st for Cyphercon, Milwaukee’s first and only hacker conference. The event sold out quickly last year, so make sure to get your tickets right away this year!