I believe I have mentioned that my daughter is interested in going into a career in information security, so when I learned that there is a Kansas City information security professionals meetup group, I mentioned it to her. She immediately RSVPd for the next meeting, and I tagged along. We got to meet and chat with the co-founders, and several members. Very welcoming and informative group! Read on to learn more about SecKC, and why their group is different from other Kansas City tech groups.
What is the name of your group?
What are your names and role in the group?
We are Bill Swearingen, Alex Lauerman, and Cory Kennedy; Co-Founders of SecKC.
How would you describe your group?
SecKC is a monthly meetup for anyone who is interested in computer security. Each month, on patch Tuesday, information security professionals, hackers, programmers, system administrators, and other tech enthusiasts meet to discuss cyber security topics and to teach and learn from each other.
Our mission is to educate and grow the Kansas City information security community. Our meeting format is like a mini conference, averaging about 150 attendees with a lot of great speakers and special events. We cater to both the DEF CON and professional crowd, providing opportunities to present in front of a large crowd, or learn in a fun and safe atmosphere.
When was the group founded?
SecKC was founded on a Southwest flight from Las Vegas to Kansas City, on a return home trip from the DEF CON security conference. Our first meeting was in Coach’s Bar & Grill on September 14th, 2011.
The first Sec KC will be on Wednesday Sept 14th at 6:30pm at Coaches at 103rd and 435. All are welcome. Please RT.
— SecKC (@sec_kc) August 10, 2011
What made you want to found a Kansas City information security professionals group?
Historically, Kansas City’s Information Security (infosec) community has been very disparate. There are great groups in the area (2600, ISSA, CCCKC), although they are more focused on certain aspects. What makes SecKC different is we are much more of an ‘event’ and not another tech meeting. We strive to bring wide ranging topics related to information security, including those that could be considered controversial.
We knew there were other people in infosec in Kansas City, but in 2011, the Kansas City information security community seemed extremely small, as it seemed it was limited to only those handful that attended DEF CON every year. It seemed pretty ridiculous to us for Kansas City’s infosec community to only meet yearly in Las Vegas. Thus, SecKC was created in order to meet up with people in KC and discuss technical information security topics, and connect with other information security people in Kansas City.
While the other groups are fantastic, they are more single focused. SecKC is the common denominator; if you want to meet the KC cyber security community, SecKC is certainly the place to be.
How big is the group?
Our group is about 800 members, with a consistent attendance of 150-ish that meet monthly.
How often, and where do you meet?
SecKC is held on the second Tuesday (patch Tuesday) of every month (except December) at Kanza Hall at 119th and Metcalf.
What do you do at meetings/events?
SecKC is not like other meetups. It is more like a mini-conference, often with many things to happening concurrently. As you enter, expect a relaxed, ‘hackerish’ feel, with electronic music and all of Kansas City’s brightest discussing the latest information security news and topics.
SecKC always has some sort of training event happening, such as Tool Talks, Flash Talks, or long-form talks. Normally we have two or three talks that average about 20 minutes, but sometimes we have special events, such as an out of town speaker or a different event format.
Some people attend for the social aspect, as this is a great time to interact, meet, and learn in a relaxed environment with our community, many very influential in Cyber Security.
What do you love about the group?
I love to see how the meetings have grown from a few hackers in a bar, to a monthly event. It takes lots of volunteers and hard work to pull off every SecKC, and every month I am blown away with the creative and interesting topics presented.
For example, one creative thing that was created by the community was SecKCoin (SKC): a crypto currency (similar to bitcoin) that is used to reward contributors and volunteers. SecKCoin can be redeemed for SecKC branded mechandise!
Additionally, this group is extremely welcoming to new members, and continues to grow and mature every year. We are currently on our FIFTH location, because we simply keep outgrowing everywhere we go!
Tell us about some particularly memorable moments in the group.
Although every month is memorable, with lots happening, coordination, and there is always a surprise, a couple stick out in my mind.
In July 2016 we had “Ladies Night”. Only women were allowed to touch the microphone. The Introduction, emcee, and all speakers were women — and they knocked it out of the park. What really stuck out to me is how many women from the community attended that event. While we try extremely hard to be very women-friendly every month, that month we saw a significant rise in percentage of women in attendance. The videos are posted on our youtube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/SecKCVids. Go check them out – we need more of this!
Secondly, we held TriKC 0x01 a few years ago, a hacker event like nothing else. It was the world’s first “Hacker show off” contest. TriKC presenters were given 15 minutes to “WOW” other Kansas City information security professionals with their best hacker trickery. The crowd judged (and rewarded) the finest displays of hackery, so contestants better come with something that puts on a good show. There was big prize money, crazy hacker tricks, and it was one of the best events I have ever attended.
The event sticks out because it was a tremendous amount of effort to put on, and we ran into a lot of hurdles, but we conquered those and not only pulled off the event but we’re able to put on one of the most talked about hacker events in KC. We learned a lot about dealing with event spaces, technical difficulties, and dealing with huge crowds. It really catapulted SecKC into becoming an event on its own.
We recently announced TЯiKC 0x02, which will take place in November 2017. Expect huge prize money, and industry changing ‘stunt’ hackery. More information is available on https://TRiKC.io.
What future plans lay ahead for the group?
We like to keep SecKC fresh, so you never know what’s coming next! Overall, we want our attendees to consider SecKC something they *must* attend, making sure that we are providing something every month that people will not want to miss. The more work we put into them, the more people come. We’ve really stepped up our efforts over the past year and our attendance has doubled.
In 2017, we are introducing Workshops — a new concept that we know our audience will love. In January, we will not have talks, no speakers, instead we will have 4-8 mini workshops running concurrently. Workshops are instructor led, 101 level (no prior knowledge needed), highly specific training events that are achievable in 30 minutes. Attendees walk away with something they did not have before!
Each workshop will be run twice per night (once at 6:30pm and once at 7:30pm) so that attendees will have the option to attend at least two workshops. Examples of workshops might be (subject to change):
- Intro to Python: In this workshop, you will install the python interpreter, and write your first python program.
- SSH’ing into your RASPBERRY PI ZERO: We know you have one of these in your drawer, and someday you will get to it. In this workshop, you will install Rasbian onto an SD Card, and then connect to your RaspiZero over SSH.
- SENDING ENCRYPTED EMAIL: In this workshop, you will install GPG, create keys, and send your first Public/Private Key Encrypted Email
And of course, lots more! If we get good response in January, we will roll out a Workshop night every quarter. If you are interested in hosting a workshop, we have a Call For Workshops open right now.
Where can someone find more information about your Kansas City information security professional group?
- Website: https://seckc.org
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/sec_kc
- We also would love it if you joined us on slack: https://slack.seckc.org/ (request an invite)
What’s something you love about Kansas City?
Kansas City people are very approachable, and very open to teaching each other. I think that is why we have been so successful; our community is very welcoming to newcomers.
Anything else you’d like to share?
More than anything, we would love to meet you at the next SecKC! Come to the meetings and meet people! There are a lot of interesting people there, so if you’re only listening to the talks, you’re missing out.