/ UNSW

B-Sides Canberra 2018

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With B-Sides Canberra 2019 tickets going on sale earlier this week, we thought it would be a good time to share our B-Sides 2018 experience!

Hi, my name is Vivian, and I am the current President of UNSW Security Society (SecSoc), I’m a 3rd year Software Engineering student, I enjoy learning about all things security and figuring out how things work 110% of the time.

I’d like to take this opportunity to share with you the experience of attending a security conference from the perspective of a student.

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In April 2018, SecSoc, with the support of SECedu, organised a bus from Sydney to B-Sides Canberra. Students from UNSW, UTS, MacU, QUT and USyd were invited; and for most it was their first security conference.

The whole experience was exciting for me, not only were the talks and workshops super interesting, but being able to meet security enthusiasts at social events and the after-party were like the icing on the cake.

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Some of my favourite talks were:

  • Spectre and Meltdown: Speculative Execution Considered Harmful - one of the best explanations about Spectre and Meltdown that I’ve seen, it was technical enough to be interesting but not so much that you get lost in a sea of jargon
  • Freedom of Information: Hacking the Human Black Box - A very funny talk from Elliot Brink (@ebrinkster)where he socially engineered some malicious requests by making FOI requests to Australian and US-based government institutions. (Unfortunately I can’t share a link to this because of the sensitive nature of the content content)
  • Contactless Access Control 2: Life, uh, finds a way- Two talented hardware enthusiasts showcase their overcomplicated electromagnetic interference guns to solve the problem of getting through doors

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In addition to talks, the conference had a number of villages, there was the Locksport Village, Hardware hacking Village and CTF Village where enthusiasts gather together to practice and learn about the more hands on side of security.

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I attended an evidence tampering workshop where I was shown how to open all types of seals and stickers and place them back on as if they were never touched, it made me to realise that envelopes or any types of seals can look completely untouched even after being tampered with.

Here’s what some of my fellow students thought of B-Sides Canberra 2018:

I got to see the real world people in security and what they are working on. The diverse range of speakers gave me an insight into many areas of security I wasn’t aware of.

I participated in a pentesting contest run by Context to hack a corporate network and gain control of a drone. It was valuable experience and different to a CTF because I never knew whether I was digging at the right machine, or wasting my time on a useless machine. It also taught me how valuable Windows pentesting experience can be.

This conference is definitely an experience I would recommend to other students!

Michael, 2nd year Software Engineering
Bsides was a lot of fun! I met so many really interesting people, learned cool stuff and got to compete with others in a drone hacking competition. There was always some cool event happening - often more than one at the same time.
Lena, 4th year Computer Engineering
On the first night there was a ladies only cocktail event where we got to meet other students and professionals working in security. I met a lady working at Google in malware detection which was the topic of my project for COMP6441 Security Engineering so it was great to have the opportunity to speak with her about her work and experiences as a female in security.
Flora, 2nd year Advanced Mathematics/Computer Science
I went to B-Sides thinking it would just be talks about hacks but what I found was that there was this whole community who welcomed me and have since helped me with study and work.
Bryan, 4th year Computer Science

All in all, I was impressed by the great sense of community at B-Sides Canberra. If there are any students out there who are scared they might not fit in because don’t have the knowledge or experience, don’t be! I found it to be very welcoming. Thank you to Kylie and Silvio for putting on a great conference, hopefully we will see even more students attending in 2019.

We will be arranging a bus down again in 2019 so if you are a student in Sydney who would like to travel down with us or have some friends to attend with, please let us know!

You can contact me via Twitter or email.