The cultish and highly successful US ‘Security B-Sides’ conference is set for its London launch this April, with organisers pitching it as a bracing alternative to marketing-driven events which dominate the UK calendar.
Nobody pays to attend and anyone can speak for free as well as long as they can put forward a good case for doing so to the organisers and other speakers – who get to vote on what gets presented - by 15 February. The event is funded entirely by sponsors, another group the organisers are still interested in talking to.
But how will B-Sides London be different to what’s already on offer?
According to Symantec consultant and UK founder Matt Summers, “I felt there was a lack of security events in Europe.” And of the few that do exist, he adds, “only represent the first 1 or 2 percent of the Infosec community.”
Summers has a point. UK security events fall into three categories, starting with the vendor-driven InfoSecurity Show, which B-Sides deliberately coincides with. A second layer are the analyst events full of high levels of Jargon and abstraction, and a third the small number of white hat security gatherings for the programmer and penetration-testing community.
None has a passionate following, while many interested people – those who don’t have budgets to spend or programs to patch - are simply not being addressed by this market, says Summers, which is where B-Sides steps in.
The event agenda has yet to be finalised but Summers anticipates a mix of the research papers and data breach discussions but with a more tolerant attitude to non-mainstream presentations and views than would be the case at other events.
In short, B-Sides hopes it can be about going ‘off-message’ if that is necessary, a brave ambition for an event that will still need sponsors, but probably a necessary one in a security industry ever-buffeted by unexpected events.
“Unlike other conferences, Security B-Sides is about collaboration, not merely exposition,” said Mike Dahn, Security B-Sides worldwide co-founder. “B-Sides London will provide a rare opportunity for attendees and speakers to directly connect and create trusted relationships with key members of the security community.”
That could be B-Sides’ biggest innovation of all – a pent-up desire for the social element of security networking.
Security B-Sides London will be held on 20 April, day two of the Infosec Show, at the Skills Matter eXchange. Spaces are still open for presentations and sponsors.