5 DC-Area Meetups for Hackers, Security Pros, and Enthusiasts:
Format: “Happy-Hour” talks
When: Last Thursday of the month @ 7:00pm
Why: A smattering of MD’s Finest. It’s a bit of a trek for most DC residents but it’s a rewarding social experience for those who attend. The security community is small, especially locally, and it provides a good environment for noobs and pros alike.
Name: BSides DC
When: Yearly in October
Where: Downtown DC
Why: The BSides movement is nothing short of a phenomenon — it started with http://www.securitybsides.com/ as a reaction to overly-large, wannabe-laden conferences (I’m looking at you, Defcon). Now there’s one in nearly every state in the Union, sometimes more than one! It’s a great way to meet locals, talk shop, and not spend an arm and leg on travel. It’s way easier to convince your boss for some conference time when it’s in your back yard!
When: Every February
Where: Downtown DC
Why: It’s a major conference, drawing international speakers and big players in security, just like Defcon. Unlike Defcon, they have a hard limit of ~3000 tickets to the event and they usually front first-time industry speakers (which is good and bad, usually good). The major downside to this is you’re going to need to know someone with a ticket. But that really means everyone who goes is like family.
Name: NOVA Labs/Baltimore Node/HacDC/UnallocatedSpace/Baltimore Hackerspace
Site: http://hackerspaces.org (to find one closest to you)
Where: Around NOVA, MD, DC
Why: Your local hackerspace will become your go-to for new ideas, help, weekend entertainment, and daily enrichment. Having a hackerspace is like having a bunch of really geeky friends ready to help you build robots, fix bugs, and drink beer with you.
Name: NOVA Hackers
When: Second Monday Night of each Month
Where: DC (See Site for Details)
Why: Many recurring members are some of the industries well-known faces and names. I’d say that most of DC’s security talent pool has attended (and spoken) here at least one or more times. Like fight club, if you attend, you have to speak (eventually), so you learn new things from everyone — even if it’s a lesson on something you thought you knew. Lots of great talks/people.