SecCon Home Page

The Pain and the Glory

A commentary by QG.

What is SecCon?

SecCon is an annual conference targeted at security professionals, of which the first was held Thursday 16th of July 1998. More information can be found at the offical web site.

The VLAD perspective

Shortly before the conference I (QuantumG) was invited to present something on computer viruses. I was reluctant as the conference was to be held in Sydney (and I am not in Sydney). The very nice people at IBC, who were organising the conference, offered to fly me down and put me up in a hotel for the duration of the conference. Being the enterprising young virus writer that I am, I quickly asked if I could get two bus tickets and a twin share hotel room instead of the plane trip - and they quickly agreed. So Meta and I set off for Sydney.

Before we left, the Brisbane sky looked like this which we considered a good sign. We made finally preparations and set off on our journey. So sit right back and you'll here a tale, a tale of a fateful trip, that started from... err.. sorry.

Now I don't know how many of you have ever made the bus trip from Brisbane to Sydney but allow me to make you aware that it is a long way. We spent 18 hours on this bus going to Sydney with this view and occasionally this one. On the way we saw the big prawn and ate roast beef from Trackers, a road house that bus travellers would know well. When we arrived here I was quite sick and I picked up some TravelAide.

We arrived in Sydney at 11:30 am on Wednesday and went straight to the Menzies Hotel to crash. We ended up watching tv, looking at the view and avoiding the minibar (no $2.80 cans of coke for us thanks). We then went out to do all that tourist thang. For those of you who don't ever get postcards, here's pictures of the opera house and a bit of the coathanger which is what freaks in Sydney call the Sydney habour bridge.

SecCon laid on a buffet breakfast for us and we ate up before heading to the conference. There was a little debate with the staff as to whether or not retch wanted the buffet or the continental breakfast. The comment made by the staff was that retch looked like "a boy who likes his hot food" and from this you would have to agree.

Finally we made it to the conference. Things were crazy at first but we got used to it. We met plenty of guys in suits who paid for the conference and hackers who made the conference worth going to. On day one, this was our view as we were seated at a table. We heard some cool security talks, one of which was from ph1sh and met the people who made it all happen. These people we truly have to thank, there's Tara who doesn't like cameras and Damien who got everyone doing what they had to do, and Cathy who was there for all the hackers, and all those other people who I spoke to and immediately forgot their name.

I presented my lecture on Day One and, although I thought I hadn't done all that well, everyone told me they loved it. Meta, I and Retch annoyed plenty of anti-virus dudes and were flabbergasted at the AV propaganda and leaflets which, in case you cant read that, says Innoculan can detect 100% of viruses in the wild. We were however scared shitless by the Innoculan promotion, not to mention downright wet over this AV babe - perhaps we can turn her to the dark side.

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With the first day of the conference over we headed out to party. By this time it had become apparent that Meta was fucked and didn't come out with us. We got drunk and played pool and I got to try out my favourite conversations on unsuspecting victims. I talked for a while with Zoe and this guy, not to mention this guy who let me play with his Newton. Retch was wasted when we dragged ourselves back to the hotel (the pub closed) and we crashed till dawn. Just one thing I have to say about Sydney - What's with all the fucking opal shops?!

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The next day at the conference we heard about firewalls and unix security. We also had the great debate where everyone agreed with each other and the firewall wargames (or mission impossible as one might say). There was also a lucky draw, although there may not have been thanks to retch :)

All the hacker dudes got to talk to a great guy from some NSW university about why IT managers sometimes seem insane and, of course, we got to listen to a dozen more speeches, including Prof who presented deniable cryptography that actually convices a would be torture victim that it is pointless to give up your keys.

By this time Meta could barely walk and crashed out on the conference floor where he had this view.

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We all bailed into cars soon after the conference and went to John's place. I left my belt and a bottle of wine there, you're welcome to 'em John. At about 5am Meta and I went to crash in s33r's hotel room back at the Menzies.

Around 10am we got ourselves a motel room out in the sticks and I slept all day, whilst Meta went to see his friend Kalimna which made him rather happy. Whilst we were at the motel we had a pretty good view and they had a bit to clean up.

The next morning tragedy struck. We left the motel and intended to go to the city, dump our luguage, cruise around for the day and then catch the bus back to Brisbane. We decided to stop off for food first at Red Rooster. On the way we saw this - just for you Retch. Meta and I were just finishing eating when Meta says "I'm feelin' kinda dizzy man" and I'm like "Well eat some more" then he says "No, I'm really woah...." and promptly passes out with his head on the table. I'm panicing at this point and then things get worse, he starts to shake and goes into an epileptic-like fit. So I'm screaming at the Red Rooster dudes to call an ambulance. The ambulance got there pretty quickly and rushed us to the hospital where he had this view for eight hours. In the mean time they hooked him up to an ECG and wrote stuff on his chart. They didn't seem to be too interested that he had been taking these pills. It was only after I went out for food that I found out I wasn't crazy and that I had seen Meta's nurse on tv - we were at the Royal Prince Alfred hospital - the RPA.

Assuming they would want to keep Meta in hospital overnight he suggested that I stay at Kalimna's place. Only a few hours after that did he call us and say they had released him. Doctors are fuckwits I tell ya, all a doctor is, is a uni student who can remember more than other uni students - and that goes out the window when you are talking about hospital doctors. Anyways, Kalimna's flatmate had a few people over and they all got very drunk. I think the pictures can tell the story.

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I went home the next morning at 7am, I got home at 1am. Meta called home and his wonderful mother paid for him to fly back to QLD. He took the camera. Here's lots of shots of clouds and stuff.

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And that pretty much concludes our story. Meta is resting up well at his mums and I'm typing a web page. We would like to thank McDonalds Australia for feeding us during our trip and everyone at the conference who made us feel like gods.

Now I'm stuck here in this shithole and I've gotta go to uni tommorrow.

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