~$ I somehow spoke at BSides London! (an unscheduled development)

Posted on Dec. 13th, 2023. | Est. reading time: 5 minutes

Tags:TalksTravelConferenceCyber Security

December comes once every year, and with it comes one of two events I enjoy going to: BSides London.

But what usually happens when I go to a BSides-type event is I usually end up giving a talk, so much so that my friends have joked about the "Maya attends a BSides without speaking challenge: impossible".

But this time I was going to be good, I wasn't going to speak, I was going to be your average attendee, giving me more time to hang out with friends, and having less time filled with pre-talk stress.

It seems the universe had other plans, as 16 or so hours before the opening of the doors -- whilst I was still in Switzerland -- I get a message from my friend Mucka (a member of the organizing crew), because two of the speakers and one of the substitute speakers pulled out, so he decided to go with plan "Hey, let's ask Maya".

Long story short, I accepted and had about 23 hours to put together a talk, effectively turning the difficulty on the aforementioned challenge up to 11.

I may or may not already have had an idea of what I wanted to talk about, which helped, and I had a draft outline, but that was pretty much my starting point.

Effectively, I wanted to talk about decentralized services, how they aren't a new concept, but how certain recent events have led to a partial paradigm shift in which such services are now more popular and diverse, but are not yet fully on the radar of cybersecurity practitioners.

So I started storyboarding at home, then in the tram to the airport, then at the gate, then in the airplane, and by the time I landed London I had a pretty solid 200 lines of braindump within Notepad++.

Now of course my travels needed some needless complications, which this time took the form of me having to route to the hotel via the Piccadilly Line and then the Central Line instead of a few hops on the comfy Elizabeth Line, because there had been some mildly suspicious issues of electrical cables popping (read the story here courtesy of the BBC).

Finally, I started designing my slide deck, and at around 03:00 decided to go to sleep, as I only had some animations and tweaks left to put in.

This means I of course woke up at 06:30 to deal with those, and finally made it to the conference at around 09:30. There, I spent about an hour in the speakers lounge caffeinating myself and chatting with some of the other speakers whilst trying to figure out if I wasn't missing some things I'd wanted to talk about.

Once that was done, I headed to the main floor and met up with a lot of people, including some friends I hadn't seen in a long time.

After lunch, at around 14:45, my talk was about to be ready to kick-off (we'd made a shark pile and everything!), and we ended up running into some mild technical difficulties due to how the HDMI feed was bridged to the mixing station which was at the back of the room.

This is a bit of a curse I've been carrying for a while, but as per usual it wasn't my fault (last time was at DEFCON 30, due to some electricity shenanigans).

Once that was sorted, I started my talk and steamed through it, despite some mild miscommunication on the fact that I would be ale to use my 40 minute slot to the fullest despite the delay.

Once it was all done, I felt quite relieved and hung out with everyone in the main hall.

Much later, after some welcome pizza, we had the afterparty in the hotel bar, which closed quite early at around 01:00, and had a bit of an incident relating to some reindeer ears (part of a Christmas decoration) having been stolen, allegedly by an attendee.

Anyhow, here's the talk: