What a week this has been! I attended the SANS Digital Forensics and Incident Response Summit in Austin, Texas this week and had an amazing time. I told Rob Lee I didn't think he and the SANS team could top last year's Summit, but somehow they managed to do it. That doesn't diminish the last year's outstanding conference by any means. Rather, they just raised the bar for such gatherings. Kudos to Rob and everyone at SANS for truly doing a fantastic job. Also, thank you very much to my friend Andrew Case for making it possible for me to be there.
The quality of the presentations was very good. I was familiar with most of the presenters and expected no disappointment. I won't review them all, as that has been done on other blogs. The only downside, if you will, was with simultaneous presentations going on in two tracks, it was hard to attend every talk you wanted to see. That's not really a complaint, as having two tracks certainly gave a lot more people the opportunity to present and allowed for a wide range of topics. Fortunately, SANS maintains Summit archives.
One of the talks I did want to mention was the opening day keynote by Cindy Murphy, the Forensic Forecast Digital Forensic Examiner of the Year. I've never heard more post-talk discussion about a keynote speech at any conference. I heard many high praises for the speech from everyone I talked to. It was obvious she had put a lot of thought and heart into it. I want to congratulate her on an awesome speech and her well deserved award. Congrats Cindy, I'm really proud of you!
I also wanted to mention the talks by Andrew Case on Mac Memory Analysis and Sarah Edwards entitled "When Macs Get Hacked" were excellent. I know little about the Macintosh system, but they both did a great job relating the material to those of us without a heavy Apple background.
Finally, Melia Kelley and Alissa Torres both rocked the place in their respective talks. They are awesome presenters and I hope to have the opportunity to see them present again.
It was cool seeing so many women on the stage this year. I respect and admire each of them so much and am happy to see them stepping to the forefront in this field. They've always been there, they just haven't always gotten the recognition they deserve.
Something I really wanted to talk about, though, has nothing to do with computers or forensics. I want to tell you what an awesome group of people I was privileged to spend time with while at the Summit. As Cindy mentioned, it's so great to be around people who "get" you. The camaraderie I experienced this week with people I truly respect and look up to was amazing. Some I'd met face to face previously, while some I "knew" online only. I was also happy to meet some people I hadn't known previously and I hope to maintain a lasting friendship with them as well.
As you may have guessed, my time in Austin was greatly enjoyed. It was fantastic seeing my close friends Joe Garcia and Brad Garnett again. The three of us have spent a lot of time together over the last couple years, both online and off and I really enjoyed "getting the band back together".
The opportunities for networking are always one of the best things about a conference. I'm not talking about "looking for a job" networking necessarily, although that can come about as well. The networking I'm talking about is the kind where you gain good friends; people you can count on when you need help and having the chance to be there for them when needed. Of the SANS events I've been too over the last few years, I can say that type of networking is never in short supply. Kudos to the people at SANS for knowing how to balance the program with the networking to make an event that results in both learning and friendship.