As always, it was the speakers themselves at Defcon that made the talks memorable. For example, I caught the last half of the presentation by Joe Sullivan, former US federal prosecutor and Uber CISO (also former CISO at Facebook and Cloudflare; also worked at eBay and PayPal). 

The session was in the [new?] track called "War Stories — On the Record" and it was a human, straight-talking narrative about the Uber "cover up" for which he was convicted (no jail time). After his presentation, Joe also kindly moved to the discussion room across the hall for a further Q&A session in a smaller room.

You can see the presentation here:

The crux of the story: is it still a breach if the attacker is a 19-year old kid living in his Mom's house who finds a vulnerability, is then directed to submit it via the bug bounty program, and then deletes the data (and gets paid)?

Joe also made an interesting point about attribution: it's important to know if the attacker is a 19-year old kid or a Russian outfit that has planted a bunch of back doors in your network that you now need to find.

Also, it was great to simply walk the halls and reconnect with the Defcon community (and do some BJJ training with friends at Jeremiah's annual SmackDown event!).

Joe Sullivan, now CEO of


On Tue, Aug 15, 2023 at 11:58 AM Richard Thieme via Dailydave <> wrote:
Addressing the issues so well articulated in this thread was the essence of my proposed talk for Def Con, called, “Think! before it’s too late.” After speaking there for 26 years, this one was rejected because it lacked sufficient “data.” so it goes. thweeet.

Sent from my iPad

On Aug 15, 2023, at 9:20 AM, Matt Suiche via Dailydave <> wrote:

You are on point on so many levels. I've also been noticing a significant culture shift. 

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 developing "skills."

Well... It was fun while it lasted, thank you all for playing.
Best Regards,
Matt Suiche

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On Mon, Aug 14, 2023 at 8:03 PM Dave Aitel via Dailydave <> wrote:
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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