How Security B Sides Puerto Rico (#BSidesPR) came to be.
Recently Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico really hard, just a week after Hurricane Irma and I had to cancel Security B Sides Puerto Rico (October 6, 2017) for the time being. This was our fifth year and this had me nostalgic and thinking on how BSidesPR came to be.
The story starts 5 years back (2012) when I was whining and complaining on social media that in Puerto Rico the tech community was nonexistent, and that all events where boring sales/expo type events and a stranger on twitter and now a good friend Juan Sanchez (@goze) basically told me to shut up and do something about it. That comment made me stop and consider that if I wanted something to get done I should not wait for anyone else to do it for me, pretty obvious when you think about it, right.
What I did next was start to get information on how to do a conference because of course, I knew nothing about it. By that time, I used to listen to Pauldotcom Podacast, now Security Weekly Podcast and heard Jack Daniel talk about Security B Sides and loved the idea of sales free conference, centered on community. There was this guy, Carlos “Dark Operator” Perez (@carlos_perez) that worked in the podcast and he also complained that in PR the all tech events were sales/expo shit. He is Puerto Rican so I decided to reach out and to my surprise the guy lived 10 minutes from my home. Probably cross paths at the mall and never new better (Carlos is now one of my closest friends). So after I met Carlos and talked about how to make this work I still needed more troops to execute. I went to a couple of good friends: Jose Arroyo (@talktoanit), Daniel Mattei (my brother from another mother), Angel Colon, and Juan Sanchez to start sizing up the community and plan the event. In that process I met my right hand and good friend Johana Martinez (@johanaMRPhD) a Doctor in Psychology that was introduce to our group by curiosity of how hackers think and a common friend Jose Arroyo.
But then I had another problem, in Puerto Rico there was no tech community that I knew of. Looked for it and found 2600 group that did not meet anymore, also found DC group that was no more so I had to start from scratch. There were a couple of startup meetups, but does that really count? usually startup meetups are about building a company and making money “fast”, you know the idea that makes you rich. But, I was pleasantly surprised. There I met couple of true nerds and InfoSec curious guys, so we started doing meetups every other month, and visiting Universities to talk to the Computers Sciences & Information Systems students about InfoSec and started building build the community.
Finally we did our first Security B Sides Puerto Rico on April 2013 only 150 people showed and we had massive losses but we had a blast. I was super happy and proud of what we accomplished and I still am.
It’s been 5 years of hard work doing InfoSec community work, workshops and meets in schools, universities, government agencies, law enforcement and even church groups. As you may know because of crashing economy in Puerto Rico a lot people that started with us and not in Puerto Rico anymore, so it’s been a war of attrition. Some times I’ve felt alone, sometimes I’ve been alone, but we’ve hold up, this is not over, we will come back.
… stay tuned, we are looking into a date in December 2017.