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Reflecting on Canberra CyberCon: Insights and Highlights

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the Canberra CyberCon event, accompanied by my colleague, Tom Smith. This annual gathering brings together some of the brightest minds in cybersecurity, and for us, it was an enriching experience filled with engaging workshops, insightful keynotes, and comprehensive discussions. The conference proved to be a treasure trove of knowledge and a fantastic networking opportunity. Here’s a rundown of our experience and the key takeaways from the event.

Pre-Conference Workshop with Josh Lemon

The event kicked off with the pre-conference workshops, and I opted for the ‘SANS Advanced Incident Response, Threat Hunting and Digital Forensics’ hosted by Josh Lemon. The workshop focused on a variety of digital forensics tools and techniques specific to Windows operating systems. It was a practical and deeply informative session, attended by numerous security professionals. A humorous moment shared by many of us was the lack of USB-A ports on our laptops, making us scramble for a USB-C converter—a small but memorable hiccup in our high-tech gathering.

Opening Exhibition and Keynote Addresses

The official opening of the conference featured addresses by Lieutenant General Michelle McGuinness, CSC, and an engaging keynote by Dr. Rumman Chowdhury, who delved into the intersection of AI and ethics. Dr. Chowdhury’s discussion was particularly resonant, highlighting the critical need for ethical frameworks in the rapidly evolving AI landscape.

Informative Sessions and Presentations

Over the course of the conference, I attended several presentations that provided substantial insights into the current cybersecurity landscape:

  • James Oram of Telstra outlined ‘6 things your SOC must be doing to better defend against complex cyber attacks’—a must for any cybersecurity professional looking to enhance their operational security.
  • Davyn Baumann’s presentation on ‘Hacktivism – the misunderstood threat’ provided a new perspective on the motivations and impacts of hacktivists.
  • Rohit Murali of LogRhythm explained how to counter common vulnerabilities and exploits with his talk on ‘Security made CVEasy.’
  • Yiyi Miao offered strategies for ‘Building a holistic perimeter defence strategy for IT & OT networks,’ which was particularly relevant as organizations blend their IT and operational technologies.
  • Nitesh Patel & Benjamin Di Marco tackled ‘Responding to the key drivers of board cyber risk concerns,’ a crucial area for cybersecurity leaders who need to communicate risk to non-technical board members.

Networking and Dinner at Parliament House

The highlight of the first day was undoubtedly the conference dinner at Parliament House. It provided a splendid backdrop for robust discussions and networking. Tom and I had the pleasure of meeting a member of the intelligence community and enjoyed an enlightening conversation about American presidential security protocols. The evening was masterfully emceed by Stan Grant, who sparked contemplation with talks on topics as grave as nuclear Armageddon.

Closing Keynote by Roger Dingledine

To cap off the conference, Roger Dingledine gave a compelling keynote on The Onion Router (TOR) and its dual uses—not just as a gateway to the dark web, but as a crucial tool for legitimate humanitarian efforts, such as evading censorship in oppressive regimes. His talk was a reminder of the nuanced roles that technology plays in global communication and human rights.

Final Thoughts

The Canberra CyberCon was more than just a professional gathering; it was a hotspot for growth, learning, and connection. It reaffirmed my commitment to stay abreast of emerging trends and challenges in cybersecurity, and provided numerous strategies and insights that I look forward to implementing. The event was a wonderful reminder of our shared goals and challenges as we navigate the complex world of cybersecurity.

To all my peers who attended, and the brilliant speakers who shared their knowledge: thank you for the rich discussions and the memorable insights. Until next year, let’s keep the dialogue going and continue to strengthen our defences in this ever-evolving digital age.


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