Pros & Cons

Conventions are abundant in the cybersecurity world, and have a great deal of value for students and professionals alike.

A Speaker Presents a Talk on Adding Backdoors to Python at THOTCON in 2017

Colloquially known as ‘cons’, conventions (or conferences) are events held where enthusiastic professionals come to re-energize, network, and learn a thing or two from their fellows. In the cybersecurity world the popularity of conventions have exploded, to the point where many cons now sell out of tickets within minutes of opening sales.

Many cons specialize in a topic or subset of the industry (such as hacking, or intrusion prevention, or web app vulnerability testing). A by-no-means exhaustive list of conventions is below, with a link to the organizer’s website. The focus is on venues in the Midwest, but these events are held across the nation and across the globe. Check out a con local to you—they are well worth the trip!

  • CypherCon – March – This Milwaukee convention is only in its second year, but is already becoming well established as one of the better hacking cons
  • Hak4Kidz – April – Piggybacking on CypherCon, Hak4Kidz takes place in the same location (and at other times and venues throughout the country, including in Chicago in June). Dedicated to getting the next generation involved in cybersecurity, this event features a lockpick village and more
  • THOTCON – May – Chicago’s signature cybersecurity & hacking convention, this event brings well over 1000 students and professionals together to learn about the latest trends. Student tickets are half price, but sell out before regular admission.
  • BSides Chicago – July – Formed as the ‘BSide’ (or flipside) to THOTCON, BSides events tend to be more interactive and collaborative than other events
  • DEF CON – July – Though not local, this (in)famous Las Vegas hacking convention has local chapters throughout the nation, including dc414 here in Milwaukee
  • Cloud Security Summit – September – Though only a half-day, this Chicago event has a unique focus on security in the Cloud (specifically AWS)