BSidesLV & DEFCON Conference Tips ** UPDATED 2018! **

**** UPDATING FOR 2018 and venue changes ****

Often before conferences, I make a post for first timers.  I’ve been to Vegas dozens and dozens (81) of times . This will be my 5th or 6th BSides, and I lost count how many  DEFCONs.  If You have any questions, send me a tweet!  @JK47TheWeapon

These are just my experiences and recommendations.

Do your own thing! Make the conference about what YOU want it to be about!

(That was tip #1)

I’ll be adding to this often as my brain remembers stuff.

Countdown to BSidesLV 2018 (and Defcon a few days later)

-1758Days -20Hours -36Minutes -49Seconds

Be open to anything…

  • My top interesting DEFCON Experiences (which I can legally discuss)
    • Met someone I had talked with on the phone on a project more than a decade before in the late 90s, because I ended up sitting at a table in the chillout lounge and recognized their voice from conference calls.  Became great friends! Co-presented talks since then at another conference.
    • Ended up being asked to photograph a wedding (elvis officiated), and reception at Gun Store
    • Crashed a bourbon drinking event, ended up meeting a few CEOs
    • Learned about the #1 best kept secret bar in vegas 😉

All these happened because I focused more on meeting new people, and less on going to the talks!

BSidesLV Specific:

As in recent years, BSidesLV is going to be at the Tuscany.

  • The conference center/registration is THROUGH the casino, up the escalators.   Save this map to your phone… you’ll need it.
  • Try to avoid getting placed in building O or N, its a total bitch to find when you are drunk!resortlayout
  • There are limited morning food options.
  • The coffee sort of sucks at the cafe on the walk to the Conference center
  • Check out the Capture the flag in the main area!
  • Battistas Hole in the wall is actually pretty darn good!  Just down the road from Tuscany, walk towards Ballys, youll see it.  Mostly Family Style dining
  • Ellis Island Casino & Brewery has good BBQ!   It’s adjacent to Tuscany.  (Get their players club card before you eat.. it gives you a few $ off)


    • TAPE IT SHUT!I saw no less than 5 people FREAK OUT because their connector bent, and the badge fell off and they lost it!
    • Your badge WILL NOT be replaced if you lose it because the crappy $0.01 hasp bends and it falls off!
    • Better yet, replace it with a circle split O ring.  You know the ring on your keychain.
  • Goto the Defcon 101 track of talks on Thursday if it’s your first defcon!
  • Everyone has a different background.
    • Talk to everyone you can.
    • Few will judge you
    • No one is expecting you to be perfect.
    • No one expects you to be the smartest
    • Not everyone is a pentester. Most aren’t. Pentesters aren’t the only ones who have to worry about security. We have to keep it in our thoughts every day in every datacenter!
  • Try to learn 1 thing a day which you can bring back to your dayjob to help make it a more secure environment!
    • If you haven’t found that yet, goto a bar, strike up a conversation and ask:
    • “How are you handling this sort of ________?”
    • “What would you do to secure _______?”
    • “Oh, you are JK-47?  Next round is on me, your blog is awesome!”  Flattery gets you everywhere!
  • Don’t “Try too hard!”  BE YOURSELF!
    • You aren’t Mr Robot.
    • You aren’t Mitnick.
    • Don’t talk like you are
    • Don’t lie about what you have done (remember, these are the masters of Googlefu)
    • Check your attitude & ego at the door.
    • Don’t interrupt everyone’s conversation to tell them all about your ongoing PhD project. (You know who you are)
      • In the same grouping, no one cares if you are a vegan, vegetarian, paleo, crossfitter.
      • Don’t try tot convert people to your lifestyle.
      • Hopefully you have more interesting things to talk about than that.
  • Don’t be a puppy.nhn0o
    • Ohhh is that the super awesome hacker whose blog you follow?  Maybe.
    • Don’t cling all over him/her.
    • See above, be yourself.
    • Don’t try to force yourself into a clique.  Find other people to hang out with instead if you aren’t getting attention you want
  • Be careful what information you share!
    • There’s 15000 people at DEFCON.  Not all are there for good purposes
    • Avoid reporters, especially don’t use “hackers” in a negative light around them.DEFCON_I_Spotted_The_Fed
      • If there is an older lady with longish red hair, and wears a respirator mask so she “doesnt have to smell smoke” through the casino, she’s probably the most annoying reporter youll ever meet.
      • Media/press are supposed to have special badges.  If you think someone may be media there secretly, without proper creds, report it to a GOON!
    • If someone is too buff/fit/nice hair he’s probably a FED.  Be careful what you say to them. Though, they have been known to send overweight old guys.  Don’t worry, I not a FED
  • See a female? Forget gender! Respect as you would any other human being.  Interact as you would any other human being that you respect.
    • She’s not there to find a date.
    • Don’t harass.
    • Don’t touch.  (Why do I even need to mention this?)
    • More than likely, she can kick your ass since she has to deal with this crap all the time at cons. If she can’t a goon can.
  • Don’t do anything stupid. Like get yourself killed!401EB839-B38D-4BD1-A7E8-8F5A19463EC8
    • Do not drink more alcohol than you can handle.
      • Watch your drinks!  Keep your hand over the top.  Never know what bad people are out there trying to drug them.  It’s Vegas, it happens all the time sadly!
    • Do not think it’s wise to recreate scenes from the Hangover – yes it’s happened
    • Do not try to open the hotel windows
    • Do not try to walk from one end of the strip to the other – it’ll be 100+ even late at night. This is a bad idea
    • Do not walk from the Strip (Caesars/Flamingo) to Tuscany alone at 3AM.
    • Do not try to hire prostitutes (Not legal in Clark County)
    • Many casinos do not allow CCW.  Many states aren’t CCW reciprocal with Nevada
    • Don’t use any ATM around or in the Conference Center areas! (They are probably fake or skimming)
    • Do not drive drunk or high!  — Just don’t drive at all!  Uber or Taxi!
    • Do not walk in traffic, especially against a light
      • Actually avoid being near Las Vegas BLVD at all after 1AM. (I’ve seen drunk drivers crash into people more than I want to remember)
  • It’s hot as balls!  Seriously!  2 showers a day, one in the morning, and before the parties. PLEASE!!!balls
    • Drink water nonstop, especially when drinking alcohol
    • If your pee isn’t almost clear, or you haven’t peed in 4 hours, you are dehydrated!  Drink water!
    • Minimum: 3-2-1 rule:  Three hours of sleep, Two Meals, One Shower.
  • Buy some Exofficio underwear.  I’m not kidding.  This stuff is meant to be worn on safaris, and in the jungle.  It will keep you cool(er) in the 115 degree August Vegas heat!
    • Bring 2 pairs of socks and underwear at least for every day.  Bring extra shirts!
    • You will be covered in sweat by afternoon!  No one wants to smell you!
    • Change and shower early and often!
    • Getting personal for a moment, buy Monistat Anti-Chaffing Gel.  You’ll be very glad you did!  Nothing worse than walking miles around a casino with heat rash!
  • Marijuana and related products are now legal.
  • Hang out in the conference smoking/vaping area.  Even if you don’t smoke/vape  (If you smoke, start vaping…)
    • You’ll be able to interact more here than almost anywhere else.   These are the relationships that last.  Seriously!
    • BUY AND BRING YOUR OWN CIGARETTES!  Don’t be a mooch! It’s annoying. They are about $10-12 at the hotel. Go walk to 7-11 behind Ballys (Near Platinum/Tuscany)
    • You cannot Smoke/Vape inside in the conference area. Casino, Outside, & non restaurant bars only
    • You should have switched to Vaping and eCigs by now anyway!
    • Out of eJuice?  PinkSpot is actually a pretty decent local brand.  Send a tweet, see if anyone wants to goto one of the 3 locations. One is near a walmart in a shopping complex (Near Fryes I think).
    • If you want to quit smoking, and want a good starter kit to try out vaping/ecigarettes, look at the JUUL or one of my many new AIO or All in one Kits & a few 18650 Batteries ( I only recommend LG HE2 or Samsung 25R).  Check out a local vape shop for more info!
  • The parties are pretty much often techno music at such a high volume that it is uncomfortable.
    • IF you aren’t a fan of techno, see above.  Hang out outside. It’s quieter, and full of smart people  (Damn, I sound old.  Though, I felt the same way when I went to my first defcon ages ago)
      • Bring earplugs if you must. Add LEDs to them. Make it look like you are being cool, and not just getting old like me 😀
      • Heres some flashing earbuds
    • Thursday nights party is more mellow, not as loud, to enable networking and conversation
    • Please DJs and party planner, we don’t need it to loud that it’s uncomfortable to be within 100ft of the venue.  This is a VERY common complaint.  I sound old and bitter, get off my lawn you!
  • Bring an external battery pack, or a charger with you!  The heat and constant texting or tweeting or web surfing chews your batteries.
  • Don’t get caught up in contests “solo”, badge hacking, or keeping your head in your laptop.  Especially in the chillout lounge.
    • Meet new people and WORK TOGETHER!  They have been designed to get you interacting! 
    • If that’s all you came for, sure do it. Otherwise, you are missing out on people, which is the main reason to goto BSidesLV/DEFCON
  • Stay to the SIDES of the corridors when walking, not the middle!!
    • Yes, this means you.  Don’t get mad if a Goon screams at you!
    • Do not talk or hang out in the hallways!!!!
  • Own a Gun, and can LEGALLY bring it?   Goto the DEFCON SHOOT
  • Every year there is the TOXIC BBQ held at a nearby park.bbq
    • They usually have enough hotdogs or burgers for everyone, but it’s getting bigger each year.
    • BUY YOUR OWN FOOD & DRINKS TO BRING!  Don’t be a damn leech!
    • You’ll make more friends if you bring chips, soda, beer, etc to share on the community table.
    • If you take a cab to get there, make sure you have money to take a cab back.
    • If you drive there or drive with someone, make sure you have money to take a cab back!
    • Say hi to me!  Say hi to everyone!
  • Check out the Lockpick village! (You’ll see me there often!)
  • Come sing a song with us at Hacker Karaoke!  Nothing beats stage fright like messing up a song. And you know what?  No one will care that you messed up. Because it’s all for fun!
  • The drinks at the bars are Expensive.  The “free drinks” in vegas thing is a myth.  Cocktail waitresses are slow to get them to you.
    • Go buy your own liquor for general purpose consumption.
    • Police your Empties!  Only assholes leave their trash and shit all over.  Are you an asshole?
    • BSides and Defcon gets dinged if they don’t meet a food/drink quota.  Defcon gets in trouble if the hotel finds people bring in outside drinks to the conference area!
    • Be kind, buy a speaker, security (off duty of course), or goon a drink!
  • Don’t steal stuff!itsatraptiny
    • You do realize you are dealing with hackers and malcontents right?
    • What do you think will happen to you if you feel you can swipe something and get away with it?
    • It’s probably a trap.
  • Don’t leave stuff around!
    • Yes, Ive seen laptops left in the Chill out lounge while someone goes to the bathroom.
    • Ive seen phones sitting on a rail while someone runs to talk to someone
    • I’ve seen complaints that stuff is lost.
  • Do not think you can be cool and try to use a WiPineapple!
    • They will find you, they will exploit it and brick it!
    • You’ll be labeled as an ass for every future con you attend!
  • Get on twitter!!!
    • Follow @DEFCON @BSidesLV @ToxicBBQ @defconparties and the speakers you want to go see!
    • Go check out @defconparties AWESOME list of parties!! Full current list:  COMING SOON
  • There’s a Walgreens next to Planet Hollywood, and an ABC Store in the Miracle Mile shops
    • Cheap water bottles in bulk.
    • Cheaper liquor and Mixers prices than the hotels
  • Don’t stare.
    • You will see odd things.  Especially if you lead a sheltered life.
    • There may be people with disabilities
    • There may be people on the spectrum of Autism
      • If someone seems afraid of you, or afraid of interaction, don’t force it.  Be kind
      • Just coming out to this event may be the only thing they have been able to make themselves do all year
      • Be happy for them that they have gotten out.  They may be brilliant, but not able to talk about it.
    • There may be people wearing weird stuff
    • Doesn’t matter.
    • You are no better than them
    • You may be the weird or different one to them
    • This is Kilt and tail central.
  • emv-smart-card-300x199If you are from Overseas, CARRY US$$$ CURRENCY!  Your CHIP & PIN Credit Cards will not work in many locations!!!!!!!!  Hear me?  Let me repeat, Chip & Pin may not work in most locations!
  • Pickup a Caesar’s Total Rewards players club card ASAP, even if you don’t gamble!  Show it any time you buy anything, food, items, play, etc!
  • Maps

Strip Map Click for Larger




  • DEFCON Reddit Sub is becoming active!
    • Reddit Meetup – Link Coming Soon.

My Vegas Conference Attendee Misc tips and recommendations:

Food: (The best are off the strip)
* Mint Indian Bistro, 730 E Flamingo (Try their Kabuli naan) –  Taxi/car
* Lotus of Siam, 953 E Sahara  Thai – Taxi/car
* Oyster Bar in Harrahs (Awesome Pasta with Scallops, and oyster shooters. Try the bloody mary shooter) Monorail or walk from Paris/Ballys
* The crepes restaurant at Paris in the walkway between the 2 hotels is awesome
* Hash House a Gogo (The Linq, a few hotels away) large portions. Good food.
* Yong Kang Street is Dim sum and dumplings from 10am-3am. (In Ballys I think)

To do:
* Pinball Museum Taxi/car from Conference — This place is awesome! Hundreds of working Pinball machines!
* Brand New:  eSports Arena at Luxor  – Taxi/car
* Atomic Testing Museum Taxi/car from Conference –  Across the Street from Mint
* Dueling Pianos at Harrahs Monorail – 9pm almost every night. Best when the Twins are there playing  (They have karaoke 7-9pm in the same bar)
* Mob Museum   Taxi/car
* Stratosphere Thrill Rides on top of the tower  Taxi/car
* Kayak the Colorado River – Awesome side trip with lots of big horn sheep and other wildlife to see!  Car
* The Haunted Museum – Lots of weird crap from mostly dead people –  Taxi/Car

Best shows:
* Absinthe (very very very crude humor) At Caesars in the tent out front.
* Ka At MGM
* Avoid anything Cris Angel like the plague!
* Goto the Tix4Tonight Booths and look at whats playing.  Discounted tickets yo!
* Go watch the free animatronic show at the Forum Shops at Caesars.  It sucks but there is a Fat Tuesdays next to it so get some frozen drinks and get drunk!

Handy links/Tips:

* Nearly all Vegas workers income is based on TIPS!  Tip well! Tip often!  Karma will thank you!  If Karma doesn’t thank you, the bartender/taxi driver/housekeeper/roomservice/wait staff will!

* Ubers have special areas to wait at almost all hotels and the airport.  Do not try to pick up your Uber at the Taxi area!!!
* Don’t Get tunneled by a taxi driver from the Airport (it’s illegal because it ads 15$ to the bill) They have to ask if you want to take the tunnel. To Tuscany/Caesars say no.  Taxi should be ~$25 to Tuscany/Caesars depending on traffic. This doesn’t include tip!  Taxi drivers only money they make is tips!  Tip them!  Or just get an Uber.
* You can take a $8oneway/$15 round trip shuttle from the airport, takes a bit longer.  But cheaper.
* To go way up and down the strip:  LV Monorail:   you can pre-buy your tickets or just get them there per ride or per 24h. ( Id recommend a $29 3day pass for defcon time if you come ) It doesnt run 24×7 though!  Have cab money if you will be out drinking past 2am Thursday, or 3am Fri-Sat.  It does not run from the airport.
* Nosh in Ballys food court is 24×7
* Best buffet:  Wynn (most expensive), Paris Hotel’s is good as well.
* For those from the UK, where all cars are about the size of a toaster, you can drive some race cars at the Speedway.
* My favorite Casino game is Sigma Derby, only at MGM!  Take the monorail to it:


And finally.. should you ask that question?   (I have no idea who to attribute this image to. So, sorry if it was you.)


Be Sociable, Share!

, , , ,