I've not written anything for a while and as I stare into my empty glass of <insert favourite drink>, I ponder all the things The Many Hats Club achieved what in retrospect has been a very difficult year for everyone.
What stands out as I embark on recalling the highlights of the year for our community is just how everyone has pulled together in the face of adversity, how friendships have been forged and significant milestones have been achieved. I know, "stop talking in metaphors Stu" I can hear you scream at your monitor!
Have you ever tried to arrange a multi-track conference in 3 weeks? No? Here's some advice - don't. But somehow during March 2020 we had this eureka moment, that we should host a virtual conference and raise money for MSF aka Doctors Without Borders. Isolation Con was born, it was a tremendous success 25 speakers, a great CTF by Point3, amazing after party and over £10,000 raised for a great cause at the beginning of the pandemic. Check out the talks here
The AV dream team of @rag_sec and @zoomerX really made this event something special.
Change to US on VPN and the YT Cracker set is amazing with over 12k views.
Fast forward to August, Kevin Metcalf of the NCPTF (a non profit that uses OSINT to find missing or trafficked kids), approached The Many Hats Club wanting help to put on a training event for the team. We decided that instead that we would put on another conference applying the lessons learnt from IsolatonCon. The idea of a purely intel focused con bringing OSINT specialists, Intel Analyst and Law Enforcement together sounded exciting.
After some initial research and much procrastination the second conference for 2020 was born, conINT (the name was @ZoomerX's idea).
Together with @TheCyberViking, @Rag_Sec and @ZoomerX we all decided that this could arranged in 2 months or so, which back in August, seemed like plenty of time. We invited TraceLabs to join the fold to provide the CTF, and ultimately they became the co-benefactor of the fundraising.
We thought that building a new conference brand would be challenging but thanks to the expert skills of Amy Pedid (who created all the amazing visuals, logos etc), and the support of NCPTF and TraceLabs this became something that everyone who was involved was immensely proud of.
Over 48 hours conINT brought some of the finest speakers (videos: conint.io/youtube), highest quality production and everything that #OSINTFORGOOD stands, with a dash of fun for good measure.
We had over 4,000 viewers on day one, and managed to raise $19,159.00.
Also kudos to the AV team, all videos posted on YouTube 48 hours after the event ended!!
The event wouldn't of been possible without:
- Kevin Metcalf
- Adrian Korn
- And all the other volunteers, amazing speakers and sponsors.
These 2 events have taught me a very valuable lesson, don't be afraid to dream big, because if you set your mind, body and soul to a task with the purpose of achieving it, then only great things will happen. Also give yourself more time than we did, con organiser stress is real!
Finally, without the support of the community none of these events would have been possible.
Now lets peek behind the curtain and look at The Many Hats Club Discord community.
Behind the scenes
I thought it would be interesting to share some of the stats on the engagement of the community for 2020 so far. For transparency, users who opted-out of analytics tracking will not show up in the data collected by Discord.
What I like about the first chart is it shows that although everyone assumes that TMHC is largely a British community, in fact we are truly global.
I'm aware that there is a core group of TMHC members that interact daily, what would be awesome is that more members feel comfortable engaging. What can we do as a community to make this happen in 2021?
What's also really insightful is at the beginning of 2020 we had ~7,000 members now we have 8,779 members, but community engagement is something we really want to improve next year, and would love your help doing this.
Some ideas in the mix include:
- Community Twitch night hosted on Discord Voice/Video discussing and/or exploring technical challenges. Run by our community, all welcome to contribute.
- The Return of Scammerz Tuesday
- New podcast feature- "Introducing..." stories from those newer to infosec, or those who've never been on a podcast.
- Community champions for driving engagement and welcoming new people
- Implementing all the recommendations from the community suggestions channel
- And any other of your ideas.
In summary, 2020 has been a year of growth and personal development for all the Admins, Moderators and community members, we are looking forward to what exciting thing are on the horizon for 2021.
Maybe IsolationCon: The Second Wave, but not organised in 3 weeks!
Stu (this time).