Chris Valasek guest blogging here at IOActive. I just wanted to tell everyone a little bit about my involvement with Summercon and what to expect at the conference. Although I’m one of the current organizers (along with Mark Trumpbour @mtrumpbour), I’m obviously not the originator, as it started many years back (1987, I believe) as detailed in the most recent Phrack magazine (http://www.phrack.com/issues.html?issue=68&id=18#article).
I started attending in 2000 when it was in Atlanta, GA and had a fantastic time. Over the years, the conference has changed and organizational efforts have varied, as running a conference is quite subjective and provides little utility (at times). Around 2006, the changing of the guard happened once again, leaving Mark and me the new organizers of the con. Like others that came before us, we put our own touch on the conference and have probably strayed further from the original than any before us.
While the talks are still the main attraction, the ability to meet people and have a good time is really what we want it to be all about. Many of us live in a world without much social interaction. The purpose of Summercon, in my opinion, is to provide an event that promotes social interaction of people with similar but varying backgrounds. If you really want to learn about the material being presented on, then you will take the time to review the content and figure out its purpose after the presentation. The ability to talk to others about your ideas and thoughts, regardless of their relevance to computer security, is the main benefit of gathering in a centralized location.
With that being said, I really do think we have a fantastic line-up of speakers this year that will promote stimulating conversation throughout the weekend (http://www.summercon.org/schedule.html). Whether you’re interested in Android hacking, instrumentation, or reverse engineering, I think you’ll be happy with the speakers this year (and every year for that matter!).
Lastly, I’d like to talk a bit about sponsorship. Although we feel that we had to ‘sell-out’ a bit by acquiring sponsors, it does facilitate having many more people attend and present at Summercon. I want to remind everyone that we’re not out to make a profit, but to throw the best party we can. By having sponsors, such as IOActive, we can ensure that speakers don’t have to pay their own way and attendees can have a blast learning something while making new friends.
P.S. We have big plans for next year, so follow @SummerC0n on twitter for more information.