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    401 Access Denied
    Episode 47

    Cybersecurity Conference Survival Tips with Chris Roberts

    EPISODE SUMMARY

    Two cybersecurity conference legends join forces for this episode of 401 Access Denied to share their insider knowledge on events and conferences.

    Joe Carson is joined HillBilly Hit Squad's vCISO, Chris Roberts, whom many may have encountered at conferences over the years with his whisky suitcase, kilt, and epic beard. Joe and Chris discuss the top global cybersecurity conferences, the importance of staying networked and connected, and share some of their coveted travel advice and survival tips. Chris even throws in a whisky lesson. Listen now.

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    Joseph Carson:
    Hello, everyone. Joe Carson here. I'm your host of the podcast 401 Access Denied, and it's a pleasure to be here with you again, and I'm really excited about today's podcast. We have a fantastic celebrity, really, really great friend, Chris Roberts, to join me on the show. So Chris, welcome to the podcast. You want to give us a bit about yourself and what you do and what you're passionate about?

    Chris Roberts:
    Yeah, thank you, sir. Appreciate it, being here. It's fun. Yikes. I don't know, where do we start? I think I break everything. I think in this day and age, I think I still manage to break everything. Half the time it's breaking people, but I guess best way of looking at it is chief geek over at Hillbilly Hit Squad, and a bunch of other things. Typically find me up and hanging around on LinkedIn, occasionally ranting on Twitter, often wandering around conferences with a whiskey suitcase, and hard to miss. Large with a large, colored beard typically, and often wearing a kilt. But apart from that, yeah, about that.

    Joseph Carson:
    Absolutely. And I think one, it's so fantastic. We've been joined together on panels and discussions over the years. And one of the things that I think when we have got together, when we are comparing about the events and conferences throughout the year, one of the things is we probably... I think when I looked at our travel schedules and what events you're going to and what events I'm going to, it was always... I remember we were on one of the ITSP with Sean. And it was like, when we talked about how many events we go to in a year, it was crazy. I think with the time we were talking, I had probably hit around... It was the Christmas special event that we were talking on. I hit around 40, 45, and I think you were hitting around 60.

    Chris Roberts:
    Yeah, it was-

    Joseph Carson:
    So going to that amount of events is phenomenal in a year. When you think about that means you're doing multiple events in a week. It's just unbelievable.

    Chris Roberts:
    Yeah, it is.

    Joseph Carson:
    So one of the things I wanted to get from you is, because we travel a lot and we go to a lot of events, is what's your survival tips? How do you make sure that you get to the place you need to be at the right time? I mean, literally, what do you think about when you're planning and organizing? Do you do a lot of it yourself? For people who travel and go to events, what's your survival tips? How do you recommend people...

    Chris Roberts:
    So I think, again, to your point, the travel schedule, and honestly the last couple of years, I haven't done a huge amount because of obviously the lockdown and everything. But, yeah, right to your point, I mean the previous couple of years, it was ridiculous. And there's probably a couple of things. One, I do and have done a lot of the travel myself, partly because you hand it to somebody else and they can never know all the nuances. They never know, "Okay, yeah. Well, you're going to try this. You're going to do this. You're going to find this." Plus also let's face it. Because of my rather storied and colorful history, there's a bunch of airlines I'm not even allowed to go anywhere near on pain of death and suffering. So I almost have to do my own travel, unless even when I go to conferences like, "Oh, we'll book your travel." I'm like, "Oh hell no, you won't."

    Joseph Carson:
    I do the thing as well. Because one of the things that I value the most is our time. So what I do is even if somebody else is booking it for me, I tell them what I want. So I'll do the research beforehand and do the... Skyscanner was my friend for a long time, check and see what routes, and even local travel agency, because sometimes one thing you wouldn't get is that if you needed to fly into one airport but leave from another, it wasn't that easy. So there's a lot of good tips for that. But yeah-

    Chris Roberts:
    There was a travel company here in town I used for a while that booked all the travel. And actually, to be honest, probably the best reason for using them, and maybe sometimes to your point, you find your own flights and then you get somebody to book them for you. One, because sometimes they can get a better rate. But secondly, for me the important thing was if I turn up in an airport and something's changed, I don't have to stand in line. I don't have to worry about it. I call a 1-800 number, and I'm like, "Hey, something's gone wrong. Can you get me out of this mess, please?" And that was great. They can deal with that, and then I can deal with shuffling everything else around. That's probably one of the biggest parts.

    Joseph Carson:
    Absolutely. That's one lesson that I learned many years ago as well is making sure you have a good agency that helps you solve problems. And that was one of the reasons why a lot of years, I actually... Sometimes I use a travel agency for that when I'm doing local things, and then also booking directly with the airlines, because when you're booked directly with the airline, you're the first to get taken care of when things go wrong. And that was always something that was beneficial, because if you booked through an agent, and the airline would not help you that much. They'd say, "Go contact your agent." But so meant you had to have a really good agent as well.

    Chris Roberts:
    The only caveat on that one, honestly, which I'm almost forced into the situation is on... So my typical flying is US domestic is always has to be Southwest. I'm not allowed to use most of the others. International, if I'm flying from the US and I'm going over to Europe or Middle East or something, if I go east, it's British Airways, typically British Airways or Air Canada.

    Chris Roberts:
    Now, I had such a status with them that they took care of me. And the same thing if I went the other way. If I went the other way, it was Emirates, and to Japan or the Middle East from going the other direction, it was Emirates, which was always great, because again, I had status with them. And I've gotten to the point with international travel especially, I'm not going to fly unless I'm in business. And it's, I'm not being an ass about it. I'm not being a prima donna about it. I'm six-foot-three. To your point, I've lost some weight, but I'm still 200-plus pound, I got long-ass legs, and if I'm sitting on a tin can for goodness knows how many hours, one, I want to get some sleep if I can, and secondly, I want the time, I want space to be able to work.

    Joseph Carson:
    Absolutely. Because for the likes of myself and you, a lot of times we are creative and productive is during that travel time. And I think that's one of the things I'm missing right now is that when I used to have that. Because it used to be a couple of hours of uninterrupted time to myself in my own head that I could actually think about things and plan, and I did a lot of reading, and a lot of research during that time. So you're absolutely right. And one of the challenges as well is when you're flying US to Europe, that's the one route that was always challenging to do the time zone change as well. And I also got up, I used to wake up when I was doing US to Europe, I'd wake up about 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning. So I knew when I was getting on that evening flight to Europe I would be so tired, I would pass out and get the proper sleep on the plane as well.

    Chris Roberts:
    That probably is, that's the one area I've probably failed at the most, which is I've still got the military mentality of oh, I'll just push through it. So, you travel, to your point, and you're bouncing around all these different places, and you're like, "Oh, just push through it." But then at some point, the body's like, "Yeah, and we're done." And you end up crashing out for a couple of days or you get back to home and you're wasted for a few days, which is not fair on those that you've come back home to. The last year or two, when I was traveling, I tried to balance it more.

    Joseph Carson:
    It's always important to balance it. I mean, the only thing we have... Everyone talks about what's the most valuable thing in our lives, and people think about financial side of things, they think about work, and they think about cryptocurrency, and they think about data. And for me, the most valuable things that we have is time, is time. We all have a finite amount of time. And our health. And those are the things that we should focus on. The most important thing is how do I make sure the most value out of my time and how do I make sure what I'm doing with my time maintains my health and balance. And those are the most critical things. And those are the top priority. Every time I'm deciding on travel and timing and being somewhere, I always look at those as two things as meeting the criteria to make sure that I'm able to keep my energy up, keep my motivation and excitement, and keep me going.

    Chris Roberts:
    Well, I mean, that was for me, when... A perfect example, like flying over to Israel for CyberWeek, which is... I love going there. I'm very fortunate. They will pay for a regular ticket for me. I will automatically just upgrade that ticket to business class, because if I'm going, to your point, I'm going in that direction, I don't want to turn up there grumpy, mean, or... I want to get on the plane, get some stuff done, lay the seat flat, and crash so that when I do turn up, I'm not a pain in, more of a pain in the ass than I normally am. I'll threaten people to taser them and various other things, but it's rare that I actually follow through on it. But you've been up for 24 hours, and you've been on an airplane, and you've had to go through customs, especially Israeli customs, and it's less thanold cotton socks. So you're like, "I don't want to get there and just, I'm going to taser you. So do me a favor. Let's get a business class seat so that I actually turn up and I'm not a complete melted wreck of whatever and I'm going to take out your country's bloody electricity because I'm just tired."

    Joseph Carson:
    It reminds... I mean, I can't tell you however many times I've done the Superman was it, rule in airport toilets where I went in, taking the airplane clothes off because you've been asleep all night. You want to turn up, and if you're turning up, you have been... The worst trip, I think the worst travel for me was always from Estonia from Tallinn to South Africa because it was the one place where you'd be traveling for 18, 20 hours and in the same time zone. So you were not trying to adjust your body to deal with it. And it always the time you'd turn up, you'd arrive at 8:00 the morning. You go to a 10:00, a 9:00 AM or 10:00 meeting, and the last thing you want to do is turn up in clothes you've been wearing for 20 hours and you spilling things over. You've probably slept and drooled over yourself. But last thing while we turning up in that, so for me, the amount of times I've went into the toilets and done a Superman job, whipping out clothes and changing, I literally lost count of those times.

    Chris Roberts:
    Oh, I'm so used to that. I mean, I always have a go bag no matter what, because it's... I had to use it two weeks ago when we went through the fires over here. But it's always there and it's always got a change of clothing or two, and it's always got a kit in it. And you're right. I mean, that stuff just stays in with you.

    Chris Roberts:
    And it's interesting because we talk about that. One of the things that I think I learned to do was pack quickly and effectively. And that was a huge thing for me, because again, with all the traveling and everything else, I don't want to spend an hour or two packing. I want to walk in and go, "Okay, I'm gone for four days. I'll take six pairs of underwear, six pairs of six pairs of socks, six or seven T-shirts with me, two pairs of trousers, a couple of jackets, and that's it. There's no other fat.

    Chris Roberts:
    When I first started to do it, and I'm like, "Oh, I'll have time to do this, and I'll want to do this, and I'll do this," and no. Shit doesn't happen that way. It just doesn't. And I think as well, back to that time thing, there are certain places I'll go that I literally want to fly in, get what I need today done, and then get out of there. And it's not because I don't want to spend time or be there, but I want to get home, especially with the dogs now. With Milo, I miss hanging out. I actually miss hanging out with him as it's nice having... Jen's great, but I miss my buddy. I miss hanging out with him.

    Joseph Carson:
    No, that's a thing that I have had as well, is years ago I have a little bit more flexibility where I'd add a day before or after just to even see the places. Now I don't have the time. I just, I go in the last thing I possibly can, and I get out as quickly as I can just so that you're spending more time with family. Sometimes in a lot of those places you end up far away from... You're in the business district. You're away from the social side or the entertainment side. So you don't want to be left and you're by yourself sitting in a place where there's nothing to do. So, yeah. So getting back as quickly as possible is always important.

    Chris Roberts:
    Go on. Sorry.

    Joseph Carson:
    Want to ask you is, so I mean, the past two years have been different.

    Chris Roberts:
    Yes. Oy vey, have they ever.

    Joseph Carson:
    And I think for me, it's affected me. For me, because I'm based in Estonia, and a lot of my networking connections or like yourself in the US, my peers are in the UK, Ireland, a lot of people. And it's meant that the way we socialize in the past year has been very, very, in the past few years has been hugely different, especially in security.

    Joseph Carson:
    Especially because a lot of what we do, a lot of my knowledge and learning and getting ideas and being creative comes from the network, comes from the people around me. And I think that's been the challenge is definitely in security. It means that my learning and self-education has been very different. And I don't know, for me, I do miss the events. I miss the socialization. I miss listening to talks. Especially even the events I attend in the past year, very rarely do I get to listen to all the talks I want to because I have something else to do. It's digital. It's online. I can go do my talk and then move to doing something else. And it's that consumption of information which I'm missing. How has that affected you as well?

    Chris Roberts:
    So it's a balance and for me, I've balanced it a little bit differently. I actually don't mind doing this. I don't miss being the airport warrior. You're right. I miss some of the interactions, and I think it's that some, I mean, you and I have both been to some amazing... We've been ridiculously fortunate enough to go to some amazing places. And at some point we'll get back there again, but I have to be very, very frank and go, for the last two years, I've enjoyed not being at a bloody airport every five minutes. You're right. I don't get the same level of interactions, but I use LinkedIn a lot. LinkedIn, I post on there almost every day during the week. I've always got a few things boiling around on there, and there's always a bunch of stuff going on.

    Chris Roberts:
    And I spend, I actually have blocks of time. In my day, I actually block my time out and I have blocks of time that I spend on LinkedIn. And it's somewhat deliberate because I will talk, I'll have conversations. Some of them move to tech. Some of them move to Signal. Some of them stay on LinkedIn. And I've been fortunate. Like we're doing this talk today, where this afternoon, I've got another webinar I'm doing, and then tomorrow I've got one or two. So I'm actually, I haven't slowed down how many talks and conferences and stuff I'm giving. You're right, I'm not spending as much time sitting in corridors and hanging out with people drinking whiskey. No two ways about it. And I miss that. But I'm still socializing and hanging out and talking to a lot of people. And honestly, in most of the cases like, "Hey, when... " I had a really good conversation with a friend up in Toronto, and he's like, "Look, when this craziness lifts," he's like, "we'll get a beer." I'm like, "Oh hell yes."

    Joseph Carson:
    And that time's getting closer, which is whatever point that you're like-

    Chris Roberts:
    Might be for you guys. Might be for you guys. This country can hardly get its shit together.

    Joseph Carson:
    Well, it's starting in... It's slowly, in the EU side of things, it's been opening up and it's been a little bit more easier to move around. So since September of last year, I mean, there's been the ups and downs. There's been the lockdown stuff. And one thing that I find is that okay, as things opened up, I think one of the first events I got to attend was last August, September. I was actually at one of, Tallinn Digital Summit, which was one of the first ones. Which was local, which made it easier.

    Joseph Carson:
    But what I started finding was is that, okay, you had to think a lot more about traveling. You have to think about a lot more about the events you're going to and resocializing. We have lost our sense of socialization. I remember going into one of the events and somebody said to me... Because I'm a hugger. I'm like Jason, I'm a hugger.

    Chris Roberts:
    Totally.

    Joseph Carson:
    When I see someone I haven't seen in a while, basically it's a good hug, a good catch up, and a good laugh. And one of the things was that... So when they saw me when I was at the event and I was going up to the table and there was somebody, like, "Whatever you do, don't shake their hand," because they didn't want to be... they wanted to stay their distance. They wanted the social distance. And you had start having the respect. And now we're trying to figure out who's back to socializing in the previous ways or who's okay with even... I've had so many handshakes where I've put my hand out to shake someone's hand-

    Chris Roberts:
    Oh no.

    Joseph Carson:
    ... and they go to fist, and you're like... And you're just shaking your fist. Okay. Or you're tapping elbows, or you're kicking feet and stuff. And just resocializing, going into events made realize that everyone's at a different, let's say, safety or different comfort level. What have you been finding? I think you've been recently getting into some events, speaking and whatnot.

    Chris Roberts:
    Absolutely. I mean, to your point, I think towards the end of last year, we did GrrCON up in Grand Rapids, Michigan. And that was fantastic.

    Joseph Carson:
    One event I definitely want to get to.

    Chris Roberts:
    You've got to, seriously. I don't know how the heck we get you over here to it, but we've got to get you over. GrrCON to me is home. And my health. There's a reason I've got the-

    Joseph Carson:
    You have a tattoo, didn't you? Yeah. I got the GrrCON tattoo.

    Chris Roberts:
    I have a tattoo, yeah. There's a reason. I mean, there's that conference has been such a grounding influence, shall we say? And I love it because it is family. It's family. It's home. Chris and the team and Pink, Nightmare, and everybody else, that entire team have done such an amazing job of just keeping it as a conference for people, for the people, by the people kind of thing. There's, as Chris said, "Any kind of egos and stuff get taken out and buried in the bloody, buried in the Upper Peninsula thing."

    Chris Roberts:
    And I don't blame him for doing it. He's kept it the same size. It's still a crap ton load of students and people coming in. And I love that because we get to hang out, we get to sit down, we get to kick back, and we get to listen. And so that was fantastic, but you are absolutely right. I mean, we walk in, it's like, okay, we're masking? Are we not masking? We doing this? Are we not doing this? So I thankfully did a bit of the bumpy things, but there are some people I did. I'm like, "Hey, can I give you a hug?" "Yeah." And there's other things-

    Joseph Carson:
    Asking the permission. I would love to have conferences having badges that says how acceptable you are.

    Chris Roberts:
    I mean, we almost... You remember the, I think there were a couple of conferences when we were going through the recruitment craziness, which is BSides did it quite a lot. You got the recruiting, hiring, and looking for work kind of ones, so it's you almost need that. The conference T-shirt needs to be "GrrCON, hug me" or "GrrCON, leave me the hell alone."

    Joseph Carson:
    I call it the traffic lights, the red, yellow, green. So you're okay with distancing. Red, I need my two meters or whatever. Stay away. We can wave and talk from a distance.

    Chris Roberts:
    And then the other thing is, is well, so you also get to the point, if you're all... We're talking. I'm talking to a couple of folks now about doing some stuff, and depending upon what part of the country it is, depending on what country you're going to, you have to start thinking who is going to be vaccinated? Who isn't vaccinated? Do I care? How much risk am I willing to take? Or am I not? And it's tough because you look at our, you look at InfoSec. I mean, we are definitely... We're the lost children, shall we say, that have grown up outside of society's norms. And we have all sorts of interesting views. Some are going to, some are never going to, some might do, all this other stuff. And I respect everybody as long as they got the logical side of it going as well.

    Chris Roberts:
    But in doing so, that adds another dimension to that level of conversation, respect, discussion, and everything else you typically have with people. So that's been an interesting one to navigate as well. And you're right. I mean, we almost need to run DEF CON 101. If we do DEF CON this year, DEF CON 101 needs to be not just, what is it, three hours of sleep, two meals, and one shower per day. But before we even get to that point, let's actually talk about socially acceptable behavior now that you're actually let out of the basement again.

    Joseph Carson:
    Because for a lot of people it's been a while. And even to your point, one of the things for me as I started getting back into travel again and going to events, and for me, it's been great just socializing again and learning, and listening to some awesome speakers, and just getting that time just to sit back and consume it. Just enjoy. That's what I've been really... That's for me has been great.

    Joseph Carson:
    But one of the things is as I'm traveling, I started having to think about, okay, what country am I going to? What country am I in transit to? Do I need to have mandatory vaccines? Do I need to fill in passenger locator forms? And I've actually been in situations where I went to an airport and I'm getting on a flight, and they're like, "Oh, you're going through... "

    Joseph Carson:
    So I had a connection in Riga, and they're like, "Well, even though you're not going to Riga, you still need to fill in a locator form for just transit." I'm just like, "Huh? What?" And then you need to go on onto a website. You need to start filling in information. And again, now we start giving up a lot of information about where you're coming from, where you're going to in a lot of places, and you're just like, "Okay." But it's, you have to think about it. It's so much more stress when you're actually having to think about those things, about getting PCR tests used to be 72 hours. Now it's 48 hours. Do I have to get a test on entry? Do I have to get a test-

    Chris Roberts:
    Oh, it's a moving target. It's a moving target. I mean, that's... I did the UK thing. I had to go over and see mum. Mum's going through some stuff. So I'm like, screw it. When they fly again, when they finally open the borders, I'm like, get over there. And it's a moving target. I mean, first and foremost, you got a book a test before you go so that when you get there, the test turns up. Well, the test turned up the day before I left. Well done little buddies over there. Yay for them. And then you take the test and you go to the website to put the results in, the stupid website doesn't work, and then you can't do the American version because it's an English version. And then, then, and then.

    Chris Roberts:
    So I'm literally turning up at the airport to leave the country not knowing if I'd be able to go. Because I turned up, I'm like, I did all of this, and like, "Well, you can't use that." I'm like, "Do you need me to do?" "Well, you can do another PCR test over there."

    Chris Roberts:
    And the other thing that's pissing me off about this whole thing is the money. So first and foremost, you got to pay for them to send you a test, which was £30 or £40. Then you got to do this. And there was something else, this and this. And I get to the airport, they're like, "We can't accept that one." I'm like, "You beep." And then they're like, "Well, you can go do that one and it's going to cost you whatever is," like 30, 40, 50 quid. I'm like, "This is a fricking money making scheme. It's annoying me because you're taking advantage of the situation."

    Chris Roberts:
    And you come to the US and it's an absolute shit show. I mean, it's ridiculous because the country says, "Well, you must do this." And you get to the state, and the state's like, "Well, we're ignoring what the country says." And then you go down to the other level, which is you get to the individual like states inside the states. So for us, it's the counties. And the county's got an entirely different mandate. So I'm like, "Okay, the country tells me this, Colorado tells me this, and Jefferson County tells me this. You bunch of Muppets."

    Joseph Carson:
    And no one's talking.

    Chris Roberts:
    No. And I'm just... I'm like, "Make your bloody mind... " And this I think is the biggest frustration. To your point-

    Joseph Carson:
    It's changing... It changes so fast, and that's the problem is that even, I think it's next week they're due in the UK and new, whether they're going to continue with what they have or they're going to change it. And you're just like, "Okay."

    Chris Roberts:
    Oh no, they changed it today, tomorrow.

    Joseph Carson:
    Oh today. Oh.

    Chris Roberts:
    Tomorrow, today, whatever. Yeah, they're changing it. It's all, everybody's... There was a whole big thing on the news article, which is all the senior leadership are like, "Whoa, we're going to have everybody back in the office." I'm like, "Yo, this is going to go well."

    Joseph Carson:
    That's going to be a challenge. So when, for this year, all the changes, all the new things that we have, what's your plan? What's your plan? How are you going to get through this year? Do you plan to do more in-person events? What's your sort of survival tips for people to make sure that they're able to get through this year? And which events this year are a must attend? Which ones should we... You mentioned GrrCON, which is in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

    Chris Roberts:
    Yeah, Michigan. Yeah.

    Joseph Carson:
    I think Michigan, it's in October timeframe.

    Chris Roberts:
    Yeah, I think it is this year. Yeah.

    Joseph Carson:
    So people have a bit of time before then, but definitely GrrCON, it's one that's on my list to do for sure. What other events, what other are the must attends would you recommend people to go to?

    Chris Roberts:
    For me, CyberWeek, which is out in Israel.

    Joseph Carson:
    In Israel.

    Chris Roberts:
    I have, again, a lot of love for that neck of the woods. A lot of head butting and scratching in that neck of the words. I mean, don't get me wrong. I love them over there, but good grief alive. They need their heads knocked together a few times with a few other countries around them. But CyberWeek itself is fantastic because it's not a huge conference. It's a good size, but you've got representation from like 60, 70, 80 different countries. And that I think is what I miss.

    Joseph Carson:
    Yeah.

    Chris Roberts:
    When you come to a lot of the US conferences, and the only time you get that Black Hat is a bunch of people, but they're all expensive. It's all, I mean, and it's... Yeah, we won't even go into shenanigans. But to me CyberWeek... And it also brings the community together, because typically BSides is, BSides Tel Aviv is there as well, and there's a whole bunch of other stuff there. They have AI stuff going on, a bunch of others. So that to me is like an entire week of do three or four, five days of just good geeky time. So as long as it's not lunacy lockdown again, come-

    Joseph Carson:
    July is it?

    Chris Roberts:
    ... July-ish timeframe, yeah.

    Joseph Carson:
    I think it's, yeah. It's July CyberWeek, I think. I believe it's around that time.

    Chris Roberts:
    So as long as I'm either not out at the lake or not doing anything else, then I'll be out at CyberWeek. And I like it. And it's just good people. They're just good people out there. So that's another one.

    Joseph Carson:
    That's a great place, and as you said, diversity there. You get so many views and outlooks and different challenges, which we all need to... Sometimes we get stuck in our rut and we don't, can't think about it, these are the main things we need to be thinking about. But we have to think we're in a global world that everyone has different priorities and different needs. And therefore, we need to incorporate those. So I absolutely, for me, going to a lot of global events, it's not just, right, focusing on one region. You have to get out there and get around.

    Joseph Carson:
    One of my favorite events was in Estonia, which is actually the Search Symposium and it's at the same time. So at the same time, it's you have CyCon, which is the academic, political, governmental focused event where they bring all of the main people that attend those events from a policy and national defense side of things. And then at the side of it is the Search Symposium, which is really, for me, it's about people going in and it's about talking about the past years, real incidents. Here's the fights that we have had. And here's the successes. Here's when we actually did something that actually stopped something. And sometimes I find that that side of things, of course, it's the Chatham House Rules, no posting who, what. No details. But those things for me is when people are not afraid to speak out. They're willing to share the real experiences, what really went on. And I think those types of, for me... It's a small event. It's not these huge monster events. Small event where people get together and they share their experiences and knowledge. And I think that for me is so valuable.

    Chris Roberts:
    Well, there's... And I love those ones. There's a couple over here that I tend to go to as well that do something similar. The National Guard in the US run a couple and they've got a couple of good... They spend a week training the teams. So there's Cyber Yankee and Cyber Shield. So Shield is the bigger one, but it's, I don't know. We'll see what happens this year. But Yankee is out on the East Coast, and I, the couple of folks who put that one are, A, absolutely fantastic, and the teams that run that course. So I'm planning on hopefully hanging out and heading out there for a bit.

    Joseph Carson:
    When's that one throughout the year? What's the timeframe where it's-

    Chris Roberts:
    That is going to be... The planning committee was this last week and I stuck my head in a few times. It's coming up soon-ish, so we'll see what happens with that one.

    Joseph Carson:
    And definitely also-

    Chris Roberts:
    RSA, I suppose. RSA moved, didn't it?

    Joseph Carson:
    The RSA did move. So RSA moved. There was many to be, what, second week of-

    Chris Roberts:
    A couple weeks' time.

    Joseph Carson:
    ... February. Yeah, it was meant to be in early February.

    Chris Roberts:
    Yeah, a couple weeks' time.

    Joseph Carson:
    Now it's in beginning of June. So 2nd until 8th or 9th of June or so, somewhere around that timeframe. So I'll definitely be across for that. I've got a couple of speaking sessions there.

    Chris Roberts:
    Good.

    Joseph Carson:
    And I'm looking also at getting to of course Black Hat, but mainly DEF CON is one event that I really enjoy.

    Chris Roberts:
    Last few years, besides Las Vegas for me, is that's-

    Joseph Carson:
    And BSides. yeah.

    Chris Roberts:
    Yeah, BSides for me. DEF CON itself has gotten too, too crazy, but what I love is going out there and seeing family. I mean, that's really how I look at it. You've got in-

    Joseph Carson:
    It's everyone in one place where you can... While everything's happening, all this shenanigans is going on. it's a place where you get to meet the people that allows us to really just be ourselves and have fun and like-minded people. So it's always great. And absolutely, Jack Daniels is doing the BSides. Is it?

    Chris Roberts:
    Yeah. So that should happen. Yeah, that will be... Yeah. It'll be nice to get... And the other thing, you got to talk about the survival side of it. I've driven to a lot of this stuff. Or either I've driven or the crew drove up to Death Valley, up to Grand Rapids and stuff like that. So I've typically driven up there or out to those conferences because I got my own, to factor that own time. I have my own time. I got my own space. I can take whatever risks I want to take while doing it. And I can control my environment a little bit more. And especially with all of the uncertainty as to who's doing what, I just, back to the stress levels, we can manage our own stress. That doesn't need to be going to through bloody airports and dealing with people who can't wear masks properly, who want to piss off the system. I'm like, yeah, it's just, it's not worth it. I don't need the stress.

    Joseph Carson:
    It's what we control is always the best thing, is that because you're in control of your own destiny. And when you put your situation in other hands and unknowns-

    Chris Roberts:
    And it's time. And it comes back to time again. To me, it's that time. It's if I have to spend a certain amount of time traveling, what for me is going to be the better way, the simplest way, the easiest way, the less stressful way, all that stuff. I took this guy with me. I went down to Arizona and did some stuff down in Arizona down at Pima College, which was absolutely fantastic. So took him with me, so it was cool.

    Joseph Carson:
    That's always fantastic.

    Chris Roberts:
    We just crashed out in the car. Yeah. Ton of fun.

    Joseph Carson:
    Also one that I... The good thing about actually, one positive thing about a lot of the events changing in the past year, some went online. And there's some events that I have always wanted to attend but I couldn't because I just, they're sometimes a way out in the middle of nowhere, or they're hard to get to, or getting funding and getting people to budget and get there sometimes. For me being, assuming it's always, it's an international flight. It's a lot more time.

    Joseph Carson:
    One that I find that was great last year that went online was Kernelcon.

    Chris Roberts:
    Oh yeah, yeah, yeah.

    Joseph Carson:
    Kernelcon was a blast. It was one of my... Just sitting back, I got, it was a Friday afternoon, and I just stayed. I got myself a couple of drinks from the fridge, and it was just sitting back, putting on the wide screen, putting on the audio, and just listening to the likes of Joe Graham doing hardware hacking.

    Chris Roberts:
    Oh my gosh, yeah.

    Joseph Carson:
    There was John Habin doing web applications. And there was Chris, what's his last name? Who does the IDA books? I'm trying to remember his last name.

    Chris Roberts:
    Hadnagy?

    Joseph Carson:
    Not Hadnagy. I've got his book somewhere. Chris... He does The Ghidra Book.

    Chris Roberts:
    Oh, I know who you mean.

    Joseph Carson:
    And he does most of the malware reverse engineer. And I can't remember his last name, but he was going through, I'm watching him doing basically malware reverse engineering. So that for me was just, it was events where I couldn't get to, went online. And it meant that it opened up for me... The problem was, is time zones. It meant I had to be up... I'm still in my own time zone, which is probably not a bad time because I was able to still have a drink or so. But that was great. Kernelcon was definitely one that I'd highly recommend if people can get to. I think it's in Nebraska.

    Chris Roberts:
    Yeah, it literally is down the road. We keep talking about going down there with a couple of tractors and going, "Hey, look what we can do." So we'll see if it happens this year.

    Joseph Carson:
    Definitely. Yeah. I'm looking forward. Looking at my notes, I think they're in end of March, early April. And they did the call for papers opened as well. So definitely I'll be looking. Hopefully, it'll be online like it was last year.

    Chris Roberts:
    I think I have a... Yeah, I've got a... So I have a cheese head from Wisconsin. But I've actually got, I've got a corn head. I think I talked there. So this year, last year, year before, whenever it was, yeah. Ton of fun. But again, good people.

    Chris Roberts:
    And that's another one that I'm very careful about, especially this day and age, is I'm happy to go hang out at conferences, and depends on what the selection is and all this kind of stuff. But for me, it's now more about the people. That's like who am I interacting with?

    Chris Roberts:
    Somebody hit me up to go do the Qubit Conference. One of the artificial. And I'm like, "Yeah, I'd love to." And they're like, "Great. Fill out this form." And I'm like, "Hang on. You came to me to ask me to come to your conference. Why am I filling out a speaker application form? I'm not trying to be an ass and I'm not trying be a prima donna," but I'm like, "You came and asked me now you're asking me to fill out a shit ton load of forms." And I've asked the questions because I've had to also get a little bit more, to be honest, a little bit more mercenary. Because it's ... it's our company, and I'm like, "I can't afford to go to everything, and I can't... " Well, the same thing with you. For crying out loud, it's like, "Hey."

    Joseph Carson:
    So Black Hat. Yeah, we've been submitting for years, I think. And for me, it was always one that's like, I got tired of it, to be honest.

    Chris Roberts:
    I won't submit to Black Hat or RSA. I'm done because I talked at RSA a couple of times, I talked at Black Hat a couple of times, and I'm like, "Okay, I got crazy good ratings. Everybody loved it. Yet the following couple of years when I submit, you don't want to talk." I'm like, "I get it, but then don't put me through the forms from hell," especially RSA, "the form from hell and make me fill that out when it's just, why bother?"

    Joseph Carson:
    Just say at the beginning, if you're from a vendor, automatic decline, and we'll just move on.

    Chris Roberts:
    That pisses me off as well.

    Joseph Carson:
    Because for me, I never, even though I submit from a vendor, sometimes I'll go under independent hat sometimes depending on if it's something I want to do. But when we're talking, when we're doing the events, we're educating. We're not selling.

    Chris Roberts:
    But here's the thing. You're rare. You're a rare breed when you're doing that. You know as well as I do. I've sat through or started to sit through a number of vendor briefings, and within five minutes, they're like, "Well, if you used our product this wouldn't have happened, or this." And I'm like, "I'm going to tase you right now because that's not why I'm here."

    Joseph Carson:
    That's always the case is that education. That's what I see myself as just a... It's about making people be able to go and find what they need themselves. But giving them that knowledge about here's the challenges, here's the issues, and just passing my knowledge on specific areas. And I think that's the most valuable thing. People appreciate it more because what they learn from it rather than being... They don't want to be sold to. They want to be educated.

    Chris Roberts:
    Oh, this is that whole mission before money thing that Evan and Ryan talk a lot about. But I think the other thing that falls into that one as well, and again, this is where I'll put a hot poker in against like RSA and Black Hat and a bunch of the other ones, is it's the pay for keynotes, or the pay for sessions. I'm like, that to me is absolute BS. If you're up there, you're up there on merit or you're up there because they believe in you, not because you handed them a hundred thousand or 50,000 or all that kind of crap.

    Chris Roberts:
    Then that's part of the reason that there's pressure. If you've just handed over a hundred thousand, you're keynoting RSA, of course you want to slip in that "Our company's the best," and that's where it ruins it. That's where, to me, it should be. I come off stage having just dumped a whole bunch of cool stuff on you. Now you come up and you go, "Hey, I saw the company logo a couple of times but can we talk about it?" And that's the difference in the way you do that.

    Joseph Carson:
    That's the difference. And I think that's how it should be. That's how I remember starting off in the industry is that kind of ideology.

    Joseph Carson:
    So I think we're coming up. One of the things is that I want the first of all, because you're such an awesome person-

    Chris Roberts:
    No, just me. Just me.

    Joseph Carson:
    ... and we've known each other for a long time. You are. And I have a whiskey here, which I'm going to salute to you. So salute.

    Chris Roberts:
    Salute.

    Joseph Carson:
    As we say in Estonian, "terviseks," which is to your health.

    Chris Roberts:
    To your health, yeah.

    Joseph Carson:
    And we'll definitely, next time we'll get in person we'll definitely share a whiskey.

    Chris Roberts:
    Oh my gosh. I'll have the whiskey case with me and it will have lots of... That is the one thing I have been asked to do is refine the whiskey process for the traveling. The last couple of years, I've actually managed to get most of what I've left organized and sorted out. So, yeah.

    Joseph Carson:
    So one question, I mean, for the audience. I've been getting tips for years for you from whiskey. And what I've been having, that's the whiskey I'm having at the moment is a Talisker's smoky whiskey, which I like the peaty whiskey.

    Chris Roberts:
    Nice.

    Joseph Carson:
    What do you recommend? What's the best smoky whiskey you suggest that I try think? Definitely a Scotch one of course. Even if I emerge, I'll take the Scotch whisky suggestions.

    Chris Roberts:
    Suggestions for the whiskey? It's interesting. Actually, ironically enough, I did a couple of LinkedIn posts about this one just for giggles because we did this and we had some good conversations with people about this.

    Chris Roberts:
    For me, I mean, you break the country down. So you've obviously got your, you've got your islands, your space, your Highlands, your lowlands, and all the other stuff. I'm like you. I love my Islay's. No two ways about it. Very close to them are what's known as the Campbeltowns. So which is, if you look at a map of Scotland, you've got the Islay's which are on the West Side. If you go kind of south and go inland a wee bit, then you end up with the Campbeltowns, and there's some amazing stuff. You don't have to go for the expensive stuff like the Springbanks. Longrow, if you like the peated stuff, if you can find, there's a Longrow... There's like an 11 and a 12 and there might be a 13. They're called Longrow Reds and they're Cab Franc and it's a peated finishing like a Cabernet or finishing Sauvignon, and those are just amazing.

    Chris Roberts:
    You've obviously got some of the Bunnahabhain and stuff like that that've done some fantastic stuff. They did one called Ceòbanach a while ago, which was just beautiful. They finished it off. There's a couple that have been finishing off in the Oloroso Sherry casks, and those are just amazing. So I got to tend look for those.

    Joseph Carson:
    Looking forward to it.

    Chris Roberts:
    Peat obviously is hard for me. It's a hard beg. I mean, it's hard to go wrong. Although their five-year-old's a bit iffy, it's hard to go wrong with a good bottle of Ardbeg. It really is.

    Joseph Carson:
    I'll definitely try it next time. We just got the Talisker just before Christmas there, So we can, just nice time just to sit back and relax when you're having, have it, take it easy. So good time to-

    Chris Roberts:
    You travel a crazy amount, as much as I do. One of the fun things I found was picking up whiskeys from all... I mean, obviously Japanese whiskey is amazing as well, like ridiculous. But going into India, some of the stuff coming out of India and South Africa, Paul John's and stuff coming out of there, as well as New Zealand and Australia and just the Dutch. The Dutch have got a couple of nice ones.

    Joseph Carson:
    Really?

    Chris Roberts:
    The Israelis have got a couple. It's actually, there's some amazing stuff where I think people have either we haven't seen or nice to going to have the world shrinking to some degree is that we've actually gotten a chance to see most of... So yeah, there's some pretty cool stuff out there. There's some terrible stuff out there as well.

    Joseph Carson:
    Absolutely. Unfortunately here in Estonia, it's the land of vodkas. So this is where I live, in the land of the vodkas. Because it gets so cold at winter, you have to actually provide yourself some defrosting, and it comes from the inside.

    Chris Roberts:
    Oh hell yeah. Well, I went back to the UK and I hadn't been back there for a while. Gin has exploded.

    Joseph Carson:
    Oh, gin. Yes. Same here.

    Chris Roberts:
    I mean, it's everywhere. It's like bloody bourbon in this damn country. I mean, you've got bourbon in... Everybody's been sitting at home for the last two-and-a-half years and like, "What are we going to do?" "I don't know. Let's build a still." And they build a still, and like shit, "This is illegal." "Let's get a license. We'll be fine."

    Joseph Carson:
    Actually, where my office is right now, I'm actually just across the street from the Estonian gin distillery, which is the Junimperium, which is... It's fantastic.

    Chris Roberts:
    Nice.

    Joseph Carson:
    It's great. So when they're doing their... You can get the nice juniper smell coming from it. So it's fantastic.

    Chris Roberts:
    Oh, that's got to be good. Wander over there and get to know them. This is where you need the private labels on the bottles. You just got to say, "Hey, I can do a run of a couple of hundred?" We'll do private labels and have some fun with it.

    Joseph Carson:
    Absolutely. So one of the thing... I mean, Chris, it's just been fantastic having you on. I mean, this episode's had everything in it from travel. For the audience, you've got your travel tips, you've got your survival tips, you've got basically, how you can stay up to date, and even stay networking and connecting and stay educated, which events to go to in 2022. You've got your whiskey was it tips and suggestions of... So this is-

    Chris Roberts:
    Whiskey tips. Oh, hey, actually before we close on the survival tips, you know the one thing that's probably kept me most sane than anything else? A decent set of headphones when I'm on a plane. And actually get internals and get over the ears so you've got both to travel with.

    Joseph Carson:
    You're obviously-

    Chris Roberts:
    I cannot over... Just, yeah. A decent set of headphones.

    Joseph Carson:
    I got, it was last year. I did an upgrade. I have a Bose, Bowers & Wilkins, BW's. BW's, which is pretty good for my, the sounds quality. So I keep those for the office for here when I'm doing production work. But I did an upgrade last year. I went to the Bose, and it was... They were light as a feather. When you had them on, you wouldn't even know they were on your head. They were so comfortable. So definitely, the BW's, the Bowers & Wilkins is pretty good from a sound quality, But they're pretty... They have really big tightness around the head, and so you can feel them. But the quality, sound quality is fantastic. But the Bose, it was a whole different world.

    Chris Roberts:
    So I got... I went a little crazy, but I generally went I halves on them. So I have a pair of my standard working ones that are a pair of the OCs back there, but my normal listening ones are a pair of the Focals. So I've got the Utopias-

    Joseph Carson:
    Very nice.

    Chris Roberts:
    ... which are just crazy. For traveling with though, I've got the Sony's. So Sony does their noise-canceling ones. They're really, really nice ones. Those, I've gone through a bunch, Bose, BW's, and everybody else. Those ones, love them. And then in-ears, I've got a set of the Shure's. So I've got the high, high end Shure's with the four or five drivers. And they're just great.

    Joseph Carson:
    I used to have the Shure's as well. Shure's is great. I think my ex, I still have a pair of them somewhere, but it's just after time the battery, the charging goes down and down. So right now-

    Chris Roberts:
    Oh, these are wired. These are wired.

    Joseph Carson:
    Oh, they're wired Shure's. Okay.

    Chris Roberts:
    And then that for me, same thing. These are all wired. Now the Sony's, to your point, are Bluetooth, wireless, and all. But my Shure's, my in-ears, I'll always... I carry... You remember the old little square iPods?

    Joseph Carson:
    Yeah, yeah, yeah.

    Chris Roberts:
    The Minis? I have three of those and I have different music on them and I carry those with me in with the Shure's. And I literally, as I'm getting on the plane, I literally drop the metal thing down there.

    Joseph Carson:
    In the hood?

    Chris Roberts:
    It goes into there, and I clip it on the sleeve, and the headphones just come up, and that's it. I'm done. The planet can go to hell in a handbasket and I just don't care.

    Joseph Carson:
    Sometimes you need to just get that, your own time is always important. It's just that you can cut off. And for me it was the music does it. Road trips, to your point, taking a drive. I love road trips where even sometimes when it's just you in the car, I'll have a podcast going on, I'll have some music, even some educational side of things. So something running in the background, and just even going back and listening to some old retro music for me is always good. It's those moments. You do scuba diving as well. And it's that when you're in the scuba diving, it's you and the... In your bubble. In your mind.

    Chris Roberts:
    It's just now... This is where... Now I don't know if you'll like me. I get yelled at occasionally because we'll go out to the lake house in June, July time frame. And I brought all my tanks and my dive suits and everything, right, that, and I'll disappear. I'll take two tanks or four tanks with me and just disappear, because I'll dive solo, which it is what it is. I take the risk and I accept that. I know. I know. I know. I figure I did it in the military for many years and I didn't get blown up. I've done in the civilian world for more years and I came to think of I've chased stupid depths and I've basically, nowadays, I'm just happy farting around.

    Joseph Carson:
    As long as somebody knows where you're going and when to expect you back. That's the important part.

    Chris Roberts:
    Yes, that's always-

    Joseph Carson:
    If you leave a note just saying, "I'm somewhere over there. Keep an eye out for the bubbles. I'll be back at X time." And then they know when you're not back then maybe there's something happened to you.

    Chris Roberts:
    Then call. And I'll take the flag with me sometimes as well because there's sometimes there's traffic around. So sometimes I'll take the flag, and at least I'll anchor it close to where I'm at.

    Joseph Carson:
    That's always, yeah. Well for me, it was diving in... It was always murky in Estonia water. You have to do ice diving here. It's so cold. You have that dry suit.

    Chris Roberts:
    Oh God. Where everybody's diving up there. My fucking... That I probably shouldn't do. I'm not even going to admit to doing that solo.

    Joseph Carson:
    It's not fun anymore. I remember doing some anchor rescue. So you go... Some boat's anchor came off and you go and you have to label it and say it's here, and you couldn't see in front of your face. Literally your hand is here. You couldn't see it. And what you end up doing is you end up tying yourself to your buddy with a rope. You both go in different directions and you keep going. So yeah, I prefer now with the more leisure type of diving versus... I'm just hovering, floating, just in your own space and just watching and enjoying the time. So that's the type of more warmer climates these days.

    Chris Roberts:
    I learned in the North Sea, which is like that. See that far in front of your face. Out here, it's all lakes. I mean, where I'm at, it's all lake diving, which is typically you've got clarity down to... I think the lake out in New Hampshire is... It's light down to 60, 70 feet give or take. About 60, 70, 80 feet, which is nice. And you can see plenty of distance in front of you, which is really, really nice.

    Joseph Carson:
    No, it's always good. There's a couple of lakes like that here in Estonia as well which gives you that visibility, but they're still so cold.

    Chris Roberts:
    Oh yeah. Yeah. It's dry suit with a Polartec underneath. Yeah. Otherwise yeah, your ass is... Yeah, yeah. This is not pretty.

    Joseph Carson:
    And it's rocky as well, getting in out of the water. I'm not a fan of climbing rocks. But definitely, and New Hampshire is one of my favorite states. Was it live free, die free is it though, it's the motto?

    Chris Roberts:
    Oh my, live free, die hard, or live free, die something. My blood's a little... mean, they're a bunch Muppets out there as well. We won't even get into that one. This country is-

    Joseph Carson:
    We'll leave that for another show.

    Chris Roberts:
    Yeah, we'll need an entire show for that one.

    Joseph Carson:
    But definitely, I'm looking at... So I'm going to be over in the US at some point this year. We'll have to catch up.

    Chris Roberts:
    Good. Yeah, let me know when and where. You know the deal.

    Joseph Carson:
    Have a good session. Will do. And it's been a pleasure, and for the audience, definitely take the suggestions and tips from Chris. Both of us have been to many events over the years, and definitely try to get to GrrCon, Kernelcon, BSides, DEF CON, all the events, CyberWeek in Israel. Definitely keep them on your top count. If you can get there, we'd love to meet up with you, catch up, have a chat, and stay safe. Chris, many thanks for being an awesome guest and show. I look forward to sharing the whiskey with you in the near future.

    Chris Roberts:
    Thanks for having me. Definitely. I look forward to it. You stay safe and healthy as well.

    Joseph Carson:
    Will do. Thank you.

    Chris Roberts:
    Tata.