With in-person events fraught with peril due to Covid-19, many orgs are taking their security conferences online

Virtual security conferences... an expanding list

The first coronavirus-related tremor in the technology conference space was felt when Mobile World Conference (MWC), a keystone in the calendar that draws tens of thousands of tech enthusiasts to Barcelona every year, was canceled in February.

As major exhibitors withdrew from MWC on health grounds, it was not long before other conference organizers followed suit.

Within weeks, conferences were postponed or canceled outright: BSides in Vancouver, Kaspersky’s Security Analyst Summit in Barcelona, Black Hat Asia, DEF CON China, and Mediterranehack, to name only a few.

The upheaval has the potential to change the technology conference landscape permanently – if the virtual stand-ins prove successful.

Learning curve

As Covid-19 continues to spread worldwide, grounding flights and forcing us to practise social distancing, a number of event organizers have been exploring how to take their events virtual.

How to do so and quickly, however, has been a hard-and-fast learning curve.

“There’s a lot of overlap when planning an in-person event versus a virtual one, which makes it easy to transition as an organizer,” Corie Leaman, ConnectWise director of IT nation events told The Daily Swig.

“We still have to think about the narrative and figure out the amount of time each session should be because people are still going to need to take breaks. Virtualization also means we have to consider they’ll be watching from different time zones and on their own schedule.”

Derek Weeks, vice president of Sonatype and founder of All Day DevOps – an organization well-versed in setting up virtual conferences – also shared some tips with us for companies making the transition.

The first step, Weeks says, is having the right team around you.

“Many companies are racing to transform their physical events into virtual events,” the executive explains. “Hint: your physical event teams can’t easily transform to be the lead for a virtual event.”

Speakers, too, have to be kept in mind. Presenting a keynote at a live address is not the same as an online session, and so Weeks suggests that live audience opportunities could sweeten the pot. All Day DevOps, for example, offers local, satellite-viewing parties with small audiences to speakers.

Finally, Weeks says that live presentations should be considered a top priority, but sessions should also be recorded so those who cannot attend can still enjoy the event.

Online security conferences: 2020 schedule

Here’s a rundown of the upcoming cybersecurity conferences that are now going remote, which we will update as more dates are released:

DrupalCon Europe 2020 | December 8-11

Aimed at users, developers, designers, and supporters of the open source Drupal CMS, the event features talks on reverse engineering Drupal vulnerabilities and a GitLab deep dive for developers.

Visit the Drupal website for full details.

rC3 (Remote Chaos Experience) | December 27-30

The Germany-based Chaos Computer Club (CCC), Europe's largest association of hackers, will again deliver an event organized by hackers, and attended by hackers, across three days.

Visit the CCC event blog for full details.

Additional reporting by Adam Bannister.

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