November 7

Live from the Conference Update: CSI (no, not *that* CSI) in Orlando

Hello from Orlando. I’m sitting here by the jacuzzi, cold drink by my side, looking at palm trees and listening to a rockin’ band*.

It’s the annual CSI computer security conference & exhibition and this year they got it right; they came to a warm weather state in November rather than their usual locals of Chicago or D.C. (Not that there’s anything wrong with either of those places…) I’m at the Gaylord Palms Resort which I’m told is not too far from Walt Disney World. This is the 33rd gathering for the Computer Security Institute.

Overall I like this conference. It’s a good mixture of content, vendors, and networking. And while it has size and substance, I like the fact that it is not so big that you get lost in the crowd.

First the content.
The presentations are not as focused as SANS. Most last an hour and just brush a topic. There are 17 tracks that cover everything from security basics to hands-on hacking. The variety is good, which serves me well, since I have a variety of security problems (but don’t we all?). At CSI 33rd, I’m able to find some answers. The downside to variety is that there is also some sessions that are below par. I was at one with good content, but the speaker really needs Toastmasters or some coaching from Michael. There’s also the problem of competing interests. Invariably, there are two interesting sessions at the same time. I flip a coin and take my chances.

Speaking of taking chances, the exhibition is compariable to running the guantlet in Ole England. There are some vendors who have useful stuff, but many don’t have a place in my organization. Unless they have a cool give-away or contest, you try to avoid eye contact and hope they don’t call on you. Really the worst part is a few weeks later when you get the follow-up phone calls. I consider it good practice in diplomacy.

The networking and social events are the high points. Even though I’m an introvert, I enjoy getting out and meeting new people. CSI gives you many opportunities to talk with others from around the world. You realize that we all have the same troubles. It’s a great opportunity to hear how others are dealing with them.

I like getting away to conferences. It gives me a chance to refocus on what’s important within Information Security and get charged up for the next battle.

What are your thoughts?  Are conferences worth it? Which one(s) is your favorite?

*I’m not really by the jacuzzi. I didn’t feel like dragging my laptop and risk getting it wet. Maybe next year…

Until then, rock on!


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