BSides Manchester 2019

It took me a while, but here's finally a recap of BSides Manchester. Together with my mates from the Beerfarmers we gave a talk named "Rage against the FUD". I think the name of this talk was very well chosen and we delivered what the title promised. Crazy was an understatement for this one. Not at least thanks to our guest Beerfarmer Brian Higgins. Other Beerfarmers that were present were Manchester's own Mike Thompson and our swearing Scottish farmer Andy Gill.

This was my 3rd and last Bsides conference for this year, after Leeds and London. And they all were special in a different way. Leeds was my first ever public speaking experience. In London we were on stage together with Troy Hunt and Scott Helme (whom I also met briefly at Bsides Manchester). Manchester was also an outstanding conference. Without any doubt the best organized Bsides conference I attended.


When I go to a conference I always try to minimize the time away from home. Luckily our talk was scheduled at 3.45 PM thursday afternoon. This meant that I could fly in thursday (very early) morning. The only direct flight was at 7AM from Charleroi airport, which is not so close to where I live. Anyway, everything went according to plan and at 7.50 AM local time I arrived in Manchester.

From the airport I took a tram to Manchester St. Peter's Square together with Antonio Stano who I met at the airport. Antonio is an awesome guy that I met first at Bsides Leeds earlier this year. Always a pleasure to see him back.

Around 9AM we arrived at the conference. At the entrance I ran into a familiar face, Daniel Card. By the way thanks for the nice merch mate.

I pwned a flag ;)!

The conference

Both Antonio and I were very much in need of coffee to compensate the lack of sleep. After we registered and got our conference bags we went straight to the coffee corner. One problem though, there was no coffee anymore. Or at least that was what we thought. Can you imagine that both of us were pushing on the wrong button? Also the fatigue ;). Anyway, it got sorted! We had a few coffees and we explored the sponsor and car hacking village. I must say I was pretty impressed with the size of the conference and even more with how well organised it was.

I collected some nice swag for the kids. They were very happy with it! At 10.30 Antonio and I went to see Elisa Manna's talk "Phishing Overboard" which showed how easy it still is for criminals to evade phishing detection and analysis. No wonder phishing is still one of the most effective ways to steal users' credentials.

Around 11 o'clock Mike arrived and together with his colleagues, Antonio and Brian Higgins we went to the local pub to have a beer. From the pub we went to KFC. And after I had finished my first KFC meal ever - I just discovered that only since a few months we have a KFC in Belgium - we went back to the conference.

After we registered for the after party we went to see Sam Humphries' talk titled "S-a-a-a-s - Security as an actual service". This talk resonated very well with how I think security professionals should approach people and the quality of service they should deliver.

After this talk it was up to us. We had enough time to prepare our talk and test if the sound worked. A few minutes before our talk started we opened the beers Tautology brewed specially for us. I got the "Purple Cowbell", which was really nice!

Our talk was unconventional and very crazy at times, but it was very well received by the audience!

After our talk we went for another drink with a bunch of people. Mike and his colleagues, Sam Humphries, Brian Whelton, to name a few. And then it was time for the after party!

The after party

The after party, sponsored by a local pen testing company, was in a nearby pub. There was more than enough food and beer available and I met several awesome people like Denis Isakov, Daniel Byrom and Thomas McMuldroch. Because I had an early flight back home the next morning, I decided to walk to the hotel at 9 o' clock. Around 10 PM I slept in.

Back home

After another short night of sleep it was time to travel back. I took the train at 5.59 AM to Manchester airport.

And finally at 12.30 I arrived at home. Exhausted but satisfied about another great experience. I certainly want to go back to Bsides Manchester next year!

John Opdenakker

John Opdenakker

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