Hello World and welcome to HaXeZ. This week has been interesting. Not only am I going to Bsides on Saturday but yesterday (Thursday), I performed my first Defcon talk at DC441242 and DC441452. I know it isn’t much to brag about but I consider it a personal achievement. I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that coming out of lockdown left me with a few social anxieties.
Having not been out socializing for a while, I’ve found myself avoiding social situations. Not so much because of the virus, but more because of wanting to stay within my comfort zone. That’s the problem with comfort zones, they are comfortable. However, staying in your comfort zone rarely allows you to achieve much.
Nerves at Defcon
I’ve always wanted to do a Defcon talk, it’s been on my bucket list for a while. However, the pandemic happened and meetings were postponed or done through Zoom. Given the number of video quizzes I did during the lockdown, I didn’t fancy it. I wanted to do it in person but with that comes nervousness. Despite how confident they are, anyone who has even performed public speaking before probably felt nervous. I remember giving the best man speech at my brother’s wedding and having my heart race the entire time. So why shouldn’t I throw myself to the wolves and deliver a cybersecurity talk to a room full of cybersecurity professionals?
With that said, I was surprised as I wasn’t feeling nervous at all. Sure, during the day leading up to the up to it I was, but being there and doing it, I was fine. I have been to a few of these events before so recognized a few people. I also asked a few of my friends to come (Thanks Jay, Mark, and Bob). During the presentation, there were moments where I fumbled my words or couldn’t explain things how I wanted to but I don’t think anyone noticed.
You know what I’m talking about. I’m sure others have it in different professions but I feel like it is prolific in the IT industry. I had it when I was doing tech support before I popped my first shell. I have it now even though I’ve been in IT for over a decade. It’s the feeling that you don’t belong somewhere, that you don’t fit in, that you’re faking it. That everyone else is a billion times smarter than you and will make fun of you for being a noob. Here’s the thing, everyone was once where you are today. Whether you’re at the beginning of your journey or have been doing it for years. Someone somewhere will know something you don’t. That’s ok, actually, that’s great, it means there is more to learn. Nobody knows everything (is that a double negative?).
The people at my local Defcon were great, they let me do my presentation and were an easy audience to talk to. They looked engaged the whole time and put me at ease. At the end of the presentation, they asked me a few questions about the techniques. To be honest with you, I didn’t know the answers to a lot of them. Again, that’s ok, it gives me something to go home and research. Some of the questions I felt I should have known but others I hadn’t even thought about. This is how we grow, we invite challenges into our lives and overcome them. We get feedback from other people and view things from different vantage points.
My Defcon Talk
I’m not sure if I will ever overcome imposter syndrome but honestly, I’m not sure I want to. I would rather feel like an imposter and push myself to learn something new every day than feel like I know everything and take my foot off the gas.
On to my talk, if you watch my Youtube videos then you may have seen one I did recently about DNS tunneling. It isn’t a revolutionary hacking technique, nor is it a new one. However, I thought it was cool. I presented it at a virtual work meeting on a Friday afternoon and people seemed to enjoy it so I thought why not take it a step further. Local Defcon groups are always looking for people who want to present and it just so happened that my local one had an opening. I spoke with the organizers and they were happy to have me.
The point I’m trying to make is, if you want to do something like this but are worried that people have heard it all before, don’t be. You will be presenting it from a different perspective and that could be the perspective that someone needs to understand something. Go for it.
So what’s next? well, I would like to do another talk in the future. I’m currently working on a video about the digi spark board. I’m going to be programming it to be a cheap alternative to the USB rubber ducky. I’ve written a similar post where I used a CJMCU but that was a bit more expensive and used a Micro SD card. Perhaps that is something I could talk about, or perhaps I could talk about the Flipper Zero when it arrives (oh yes! I ordered one).
Either way, I wouldn’t hate it if I became a regular talker. I feel like it is something I could do to give something back to my local community. It’s a great way to make connections and learn new things. If you’re into hacking or security in general, you should definitely check out your local Defcon if you have one. It could be the stepping stone you need to land your first Cybersecurity job or just a way to make new friends with similar interests. My local Defcon did a talk about lock-picking once and had a bunch of locks and lock-picking toys for everyone to play with. It was great.
Anyway, I’m now someone who has spoken at a local Defcon. Not going to lie, it feels good.
Thanks for reading.