Let me start by saying that the organizers of the first ever BSides Cybersecurity Conference in Fredericton, New Brunswick are all class! Two gentlemen from local company Bulletproof and another experienced professional from NB Power executed a vision for a sharing conference that was well attended and kept a serious topic like cybersecurity fun and inviting even for those not directly in the industry. I had the pleasure of being a chauffeur and chaperone for Liam as he presented his experience in K-12 New Brunswick Cybersecurity Education for the first time. The following is a brief recap of the event from my teacher perspective and as a cybersecurity enthusiast and advocate.
After arriving at the hotel which covered two rooms from a tech award I received the previous year, Liam and I had local pizza delivered and then headed out to visit the venue. When we entered the hotel conference space Liam recognized Curtis (The Organizer) from Bulletproof and his colleague and supervisor setting up the venue. These two professionals spent nearly an hour chatting with Liam and sharing industry tales and hobby adventures. This in my opinion was the first time that a career in cybersecurity became real for Liam. These experienced Bulletproof staff members were both encouraging and inspirational in their dialogue focussed on aspects of cybersecurity and the training necessary to join the field. By the time the venue was locked for the night I sensed Liam was as sure as ever that these gentlemen represented exactly where he saw himself in short order. Liam headed to his room to practice his presentation and rest before the big day.
The conference started early and Liam was spooked by the suits and ties entering the venue. He must have felt under dressed for the event until the attendees who were not executives arrived. That's the beauty of BSides as it brings together company leaders, thought leaders and those who get the job done daily. The cybersecurity experience and talent in the room by 9am was impressive. The first presentation was from GNB and addressed cybersecurity from an accounting framework which seemed very logical and was digestible by those of us not in the industry. Liam then presented his experience in New Brunswick education both in personalized learning and cybersecurity education. His talk highlighted his past successes and passions, current efforts and future goals with some humour and example media included. He was followed by a tremendous presentation about using Honey Pots as a proactive cybersecurity method designed to gather intelligence that could be used by the industry to better protect data. You could tell as an outsider that these speakers were respected and valued by the audience. CyberNB also gave a welcome to the event that morning and I must personally thank them for covering the cost of my guest teacher for the day allowing this to happen. Sometimes that is what's needed to inspire years of cybersecurity effort in our K-12 schools.
After a wonderful lunch the heavy topic of machine learning in antivirus detection and cybersecurity added to the wealth of knowledge sharing and there was a cool talk about sparking engagement in cybersecurity and how that might happen best. Liam and I had had a full day and yet there was a long drive home ahead of us. We ducked out but not before I won a door prize called a Bash Bunny. To quiet the distaste of a non-industry winner I quickly handed off the tool to Liam and told him he could have it only if he would never use it against myself or CRHS or NBED. Deal! I'm so pleased I got to go to this event and though only a part of the $600 cost was covered I feel it is money well invested in personalized learning and thank those who helped wholeheartedly.