Thanks to our second place in the BruCON Student CTF, me and my team won free tickets to the main conference for the second year in a row. Our prize for the CTF was not just free tickets but also some goodies and a book sponsored by Toreon, a Belgium based security company.
Security conferences, why?
Last year’s BruCON was my first security conference I ever attended. That year was extra special because it was their 10th edition, which extended the event with a “Retro-day”, where they invited some people to re-do their BruCON talk from the previous decade. It was an amazing way to see how much (or sometimes how little) security has developed in different parts of the IT world. I even recognized some speakers from DEF CON talks I had already seen on YouTube.
At our age, we were definitely some of the younger people attending the conference both last year and this year. I can only see this as a positive thing as learning from more experienced (and thus often older) individuals will give you a big lead on other people your age.
Security conferences are not all about sharing knowledge and talks however. There are various stands of security companies where you can claim goodies, there’s good food and BruCON even has a retro-gaming place in the building. Besides that, a some of my teachers were attending or speaking at the event. It was a great way to have a short talk with them outside college and see their talks 🙂
This year, we focused more on the side-events of the conference. Mostly the BruCON CTF and the ICS CTF. I remember spending about 8 hours to solve a single challenge from the main CTF, this was on a whole other level than the student CTF’s I’m used to, but in the end we still managed to solve three challenges which actually was more than I expected to solve at the start.
The ICS CTF was more like what I was used to. A ton of challenges to solve with some low hanging fruits to give you some extra motivation to keep searching for flags. We didn’t really compete in this CTF for a place on the scoreboard. We started it pretty late during the second day but still managed to score quite an amount of points and learn some more about ICS security thanks to the talks that were held in the same room as the CTF.
I believe BruCON is a great entry-level conference for everyone who is interested in security. With entry-level I’m not referring to the quality of the conference, but rather the price. Some conferences tend to be very expensive (ticket cost, travel cost, hotel cost, …). If you live in or near Belgium and want to know what it’s like at a security conference before spending big amounts of money on something like DEF CON or Blackhat, BruCON is the one!