Tools to Fight Your Demons at #Defcon, #BlackHat and More

by Bill Brenner on July 11, 2014

This isn’t a post about how I think you should behave at DEF CON. I’ve already said my bit about the drama aspect and shared my experiences being a sober guy at security cons. This isn’t an anti-drinking tirade or a lecture about the treatment of women at these events.

It IS a resource for those who have demons they’d like to control during our so-called Security Summer Camp.

Mood music:

There’s been some talk about hackers holding Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings during DEF CON. One thing I’ve heard is that some folks have requested that a room be scheduled and set aside twice a day for an hour at a time — once in the morning and once later in the day — for sobriety meetings. I think it’s a great idea. But those looking for a meeting already have plenty of choices. AA meetings are everywhere, every day in just about every city. Check out this list of meeting days, times and locations along the Vegas Strip.

If you’re like me and compulsive binge eating is a problem, there are also plenty of Overeaters Anonymous (OA) meetings not far from where we’ll be. Las Vegas OA has a list.

A long-time conference issue is how women are treated. If you’re new to the event and are concerned about that, my good friend Erin Jacobs (@SecBarbie) has been running a buddy system for at least a couple years.

On her Security Socialility blog she writes:

If you are or you know someone, especially (but not only) female, who is new to the conferences or might need a friendly hand, give them this number:


I have setup this to contact me via voice and text during the conference so I can help assist people who find themselves uncomfortable, need a friend to talk to about something that happened, are in a situation that is turning bad that need some assistance, or need some first-time attendee guidance. Anyone who reaches out will have their information kept confidential and not shared unless the individual wishes for me to speak on their behalf. If for some reason I can’t get to you personally, I will respond with a trusted helping hand to help you as much as possible.

If you’re new to all this, have no fear. The security community is a family. Drunk or sober, we look out for each other.

I’ve gotten nothing but support from the community as I’ve worked to manage my own addictions. But that’s only one piece of the puzzle. Ultimately, we have a responsibility to take care of ourselves.

Personal demons are not a product of the security community. They’re a product of being human. We all need help. But we have to help ourselves, too.

The weapons to fight your demons are all around you, no matter where you travel. You just have to use them.

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