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.

In its UK launch year it looks as if the Security B-Sides UK ‘unconference’ will be a pretty cosy affair, with all 200 tickets to attend the modest East London venue on 20 April already gone.  

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.