SecTor conference spawns IT Security Week

Canadian IT security professionals are launching their own version of the yearly Black Hat conference, where experts gather to discuss the latest trends in attacks and vulnerabilities.

The first Security Education Conference Toronto (SecTor) will be held on November 20 and 21 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre and will showcase both international and Canadian speakers, said SecTor co-founder Brian Bourne.

“We have modeled ourselves from the best aspects of the Black Hat USA event in Vegas…focusing the event on late-breaking research and current and emerging threats,” said Bourne, adding that most of the topics that will be covered at the event are attack-focused type of content.

As with Black Hat, SecTor’s focus on latest attack and vulnerability trends may also attract malicious hackers to attend as much as well-meaning professionals, but Bourne stressed the goal of the event is clear.

“We’re carefully walking a fine line,” he said. “(We want to make) sure that it’s presented in such a way that this is what is happening and this is how it works and you need to know this so that you can mount the proper defence.”

Despite the risk of being used for the wrong reasons, the event has so far drawn “predominantly corporate-type people” who have registered for the $850-per-person conference.

The two-day SecTor 2007 forms part of a week-long Canadian IT security event from November 19 to November 23, which includes security-related workshops and forums taking place across Canada.

IT Security Week Canada involves simultaneous events hosted by various organizations including the SecureToronto event hosted by ISC2, a workshop on emergency preparedness and disaster recovery by Toronto-based International Perspectives, a Microsoft-sponsored workshop on digital forensics, and an IDC Canada-led security roundtable.

“When we started talking to people like ITAC and ISC2 and others, they realized not only the benefit of an event like SecTor, but that by combining efforts in the community we would suddenly have an awful lot more opportunity…focused on helping the people out there in the security community,” said Bruce Cowper, senior program manager for security initiatives at Microsoft Canada.

While the SecTor sessions are deeply technical in nature and are typically ideal for security professionals, the coinciding sessions during the IT Security Week will attract various professionals in the IT field, from Web developers to IT managers, said Cowper.

Speakers at SecTor 2007 will be a mix of international and Canadian experts in the IT security industry, including Polish security researcher Joanna Rutkowska, Ira Winkler, president of the Internet Security Advisors Group and author of Spies Among Us, and Carole Bird of the RCMP to talk about cyber crime from the perspective of Canadian law enforcement.

Although this is the first year for SecTor, Toronto has been hosting another IT security event every year – Infosecurity Canada.

Cowper, however, distinguishes SecTor from the other event saying that the mini-Black Hat forum is “not a vendor affair.”

“All speakers submitted…an abstract covering their speaker topic, and all of those have been vetted to make sure that they are focused solely on challenges and solutions rather than on specific vendor products,” Cowper said.

Registration is still ongoing for SecTor 2007, but the number of participants will be limited to only 500 this year, said Bourne.

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