This past July I went out to Las Vegas for the first to attend some of the events referred to as "hacker summer camp": Black Hat, BSides, and Defcon.
Now, I did not attend Black Hat as the event was pretty expensive. I did want to drop by the exhibit hall, but couldn't get in. I did attend the ISSA and ISC(2) receptions tied to the event. I was a little disappointed that ISACA made a big deal about being at Black Hat but didn't do a reception of some kind.
I mainly came to attend BSides and Defcon and stayed at the Tuscany Suites where BSides was being held, which I recommend. This guaranteed you a ticket for BSides. I also got the meal ticket deal (breakfast & lunch) at BSides, which made me a sponsor and got me earlier checking at the sponsor table. I also pre-ordered a t-shirt (recommended).
There were a lot of interesting sessions I attended. I'll need to do another posting on some of the sessions I went thru and give more info on them.
Once BSides was over I attended Defcon. This event was a bit overwhelming. There was a big line for the trading post (cash only!), and I mainly wanted to get a t-shirt. I was a little disappointed that the badge this year was a rubber badge, not an electronic one. But many others had their own badge and I got a few.
Defcon is almost a collection of conferences. There are main Defcon sessions, which are in HUGE rooms, four at a time. Then there are a half dozen or so "villages" which have activities and their own sessions. Skytalks was a good one, but there are villages for privacy & crypto, car hacking, IoT, and many others. There was also a vendor area (but not open the first day). There were many interesting vendors. One I had met at BSides is HackerBoxes.
As I noted, a lot of groups, including some of the villages, had their own electronic badges. I really wanted a few, but they were cash only. I didn't consider that and didn't bring a lot of cash with me. And using ATMs was expensive. So next time I will bring a lot more cash.
I did some fun things, like solider a small badge at the Hardware Hacking Village (wasn't their big electronic badge they had, missed out on that). Had some interesting conversations with several people. Met a few interesting people and groups.
Not sure if I'll go back next year or when I'll go back. I would probably want to submit some talk proposals to BSides (I had thought of doing some this year, but wasn't certain if any I do would get accepted, but after seeing the sessions I should have submitted some). I would again get a room at the Tuscany and had debated getting one just in case I decided to go. Just don't know at this point.
I'll post some pics soon.