Start your DEFCON 24 homework now

This list is extensive, so don't wait until July to start your DEFCON homework.

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When I talked with Ben Johnson, chief security strategist, Bit9+Carbon Black about the common mistakes security professionals make in responding to an incident, our conversation segued into one about learning and networking. Johnson mentioned the benefits of attending conferences not only for educational purposes but also for networking.

BSides hosts conferences in almost every major city, and they are also part of the week-long conference extravaganza in Vegas the first week in August. With only a few months of writing for CSO under my belt, I hopped a plane out to Vegas last summer and had the chance to meet co-founder Jack Daniel.

I did the BSides, Black Hat, DEFCON tour and wrote some reflections on my experience upon my return. To say that I learned a lot that week is an understatement, and I’m so excited to get back to Vegas this summer that I’ve already booked my hotel. Now, I have to start doing my homework.

Yes, homework. DEFCON has posted some homework assignments. I’m so excited to work my way through the film and reading list that I’ve already ordered two of the books on audible. 

Over the next six months I plan to chip away at these DEFCON 24 homework assignments, and I’m challenging all of you security newbish readers to join me in preparing for this year’s “Rise of the Machine” themed conference. I’m completely aware of the fact that it’s January and the conference is in August, but I’m a planner, and I’m a slow reader. If I aim to read a book a month, I will finish!

I’ve already seen Her (and I’ve even written about the complicated issues of trust that exist between man and machine), but I loved it so much, I will watch it again. Yes, I’m a bit of a teacher’s pet. 

Watching movies is a bit easier than finding the time to hunker down with a book, so I should have no problem getting through another viewing of my favorite Joaquin Phoenix flick and The Complete Metropolis, TRON, and Ex Machina.

Not surprisingly, I haven’t heard of any of the books on the homework list, so I randomly decided to start with the first one. I can already hear my daughters begging me, “Mommy, can you turn that off and put some music on?” as I listen to The Age of Spiritual Machines by Ray Kurzweil, and that book is only three hours of listening. 

Just to mix things up, I decided not to read in order of the list. I went rogue and chose Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom. The new Bose Wave Sound Touch and I are going to spend a lot of time together as that work is 14 hours and 16 minutes of listening pleasure.

There you have it. Those are the two literary works that I am starting with in my quest to properly prepare for DEFCON 24. I’d love it if some of you would join me. After I knock out the three hours of audio, I'll write a post on my thoughts before tackling the second download and working my way through the entire list. We can have a little study group and share our thoughts right here on this blog. Which of you security professionals is interested in having a literary discussion about the rise of machines with a former English teacher?

Follow my blog and expect to see a review of each of these books in the following months. I’d love it if you shared your thoughts with me and others in the comment section. Looking forward to seeing you and talking more about these assignments in Vegas.

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