You are on point on so many levels. I've also been noticing a significant
There is definitely a strong focus on policy-making, which now promotes
conformity in thought and dismiss critical perspectives. These are the very
things that the hacker culture once opposed, but they also now represent
what policy-making is. We could even say that policy-making is now molding
the hacker culture, rather than the other way around, and that this shift
will inevitably lead to a "glocalization of cyber."
The definition of "technical work" appears to vary widely across various
clusters of our industry, including within those self-specifically
categorized as "technical clusters." When I engage with younger
individuals, I frequently encourage them to consider a career as a software
engineer, where they will have the opportunity to create tools and products
rather than merely using someone else's creations. While this may seem
obvious, the increasing noise in the industry makes it feel, year by year,
as though the culture is shifting towards mastering "products" rather than
Well... It was fun while it lasted, thank you all for playing.
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On Mon, Aug 14, 2023 at 8:03 PM Dave Aitel via Dailydave <
The Vegas security conferences used to feel like
diving into a river.
While yes, you networked and made deals and talked about exploits, you also
felt for currents and tried to get a prediction of what the future held. A
lot of this was what the talks were about. But you went to booths to see
what was selling, or what people thought was selling, at least.
But it doesn't matter anymore what the talks are about. The talks are
about everything. There's a million of them and they cover every possible
topic under the sun. And the big corpo booths are all the same. People want
to sell you XDR, and what that means for them is a per-seat or per-IP
charge. When there's no differentiation in billing, there's no
differentiation in product.
That doesn't mean there aren't a million smaller start-ups with tiny
cubicles in the booth-space, like pebbles on a beach. Hunting through them
is like searching for shells - for every Thinkst Canary there's a hundred
newly AI-enabled compliance engines.
DefCon and Blackhat in some ways used to be more international as well -
but a lot of the more interesting speakers can't get visas anymore or
aren't allowed to talk publicly by their home countries.
If you've been in this business for a while, you have a dreadful fear of
being in your own bubble. To not swim forward is to suffocate. This is what
drove you to sit in the front row of as many talks as possible at these two
huge conferences, hung over, dehydrated, confused by foreign terminology in
a difficult accent.
But now you can't dive in to make forward progress. Vegas is even more of
a forbidding dystopia, overloaded with crowds so heavy it can no longer
feed them or even provide a contiguous space for the ameba-like host to
gather. Talks echo and muddle in cavernous rooms with the general acoustics
of a high school gymnasium. You are left with snapshots and fragmented
memories instead of a whole picture.
For me, one such moment was a Senate Staffer, full of enthusiasm, crowing
about how smart the other people working on policy and walking the halls of
Congress were - experts and geniuses at healthcare, for example! But if our
cyber security policy matches our success at a health system we are doomed.
I brought my kids this year and it helps to be able to see through the
chaos with new eyes. What's "cool" I asked? in the most boomery way
possible. Because I know Jailbreaking an AI to say bad things is not it,
even though it had all the political spotlights in the world focused on
examining the "issue".
The more crowded the field gets, the less immersion you have. Instead of
diving in you are holding your palm against the surface of the water,
hoping to sense the primordial tube worms at the sea vents feeding on raw
data leagues below you. "Take me to the beginning, again" you say to them,
through whatever connection you can muster.
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