We’re bringing you a short series of blogs about the upcoming InforWarCon, an invitational cyber training congress, that brings together an elite group of “political, military, academic, DIYer, and commercial cyber-leaders and thinkers from around the world.” InfowarCon (IWC) prides itself on being one of the only conferences where “a deputy secretary, a professor, a college intern, and a member of a think tank are able to sit down and exchange ideas” about the future of cyberwar, technology, information warfare, and related policy. InfowarCon was founded in 1994 by SAC’s founder, Winn Schwartau, and has since transferred hands to the combined leadership of Travis Hartman, William Kimble, and James Wright. You can learn more about the conference, which is taking place in Leesburg, VA Nov 1-3, 2018, by visiting the main site https://infowarcon.com/.
Today’s blog is an interview with Travis Hartman, who presently works with the USSOCOM, and will provide you some behind-the-scenes information about this conference. So dive in!
How did you get into the infosec industry and how did that lead to your involvement with IWC?I have always had an interest in how things work and how they might be used differently. A few decades of poking at things later, I attended my first InfoWarCon as a presenter on using Lego robotics to exfiltrate information from cloud environments. This led to a long-term friendship with Winn and the conversation in 2017 where we talked about the future of IWC . The key items are 100-150 attendees, bringing technology and influential thought leaders together, and ensuring the exchange of ideas from all participants.
What is the goal of IWC, short-term and long-term?To paraphrase Winn’s statement when he passed IWC to me– “Don’t screw it up”. IWC has a great history and a solid foundation. This is our first year of organizing the event in a new venue with new leadership team. Near term, we are working on a regular event in the fall in the DC area. We brought together a great set of advisors for our initial board and their tremendous support and guidance enabled us to put together a great program.
Longer term we would plan to add a second event each year in the spring. This will be in a different location – either in Europe or in different venues across the U.S.
If you had a No. 1 reason why people should attend, what would it be?Attend for the attendees and the speakers. Some of the best interactions I have had at IWC involved the follow-up discussions that a presentation sparked. IWC is the only place you are likely to see an author, a Hollywood visual effects producer, a senior cybersecurity researcher, and a few executives deconstruct ISIS recruitment techniques and how the lessons from those could apply to motivating internal staff.
What can attendees expect to get out of IWC?New insights, new contacts, and a fresh view on ideas. By bringing together people from influence, security, and research domains, IWC provides a unique ability to develop concepts. It isn’t an echo chamber of everyone in the same industry with the same level of experience in their careers.
What type of audience do you hope to attract to IWC?We want to continue the great interaction of different mindsets and backgrounds. IWC attendees come from government, academia, corporations, and even Hollywood. The ability to examine not only cyber security but information warfare and how they interact is only possible when pracitioners from the different groups interact.
What advantages do vendors and sponsors have with IWC compared to other conferences?IWC brings together an eclectic group of people to provide different insights. Whether from government, academia, non-profits, or industry, we have the people who will make the decisions for future investments. IWC provides opportunities for sponsors to interact with the attendees. With 100 attendees, vendors can participate in discussions and don’t have to gamble on the right person to wander past their booth in a crowded hall.
If you had one piece of advice for someone looking to break into the infosec industry, what would it be?Get involved in what interests you. Then keep asking “why” until you get the answer you want. See how you can apply previous security technologies to new areas. Drones and cars weren’t on the radar for many people a decade ago. Now they are two of the fastest growing security areas.
What does the future hold for information warfare? What’s the biggest threat to everyday citizens?People should gain awareness of how others are trying to manipulate them. Unfortunately, breaking confirmation bias isn’t something many will look for. Using the theory that awareness of something makes it more visible, microtargeting of individuals to gradually shape their behaviors over time will occur.
Recently he served as the Battalion Commander for the highest rated signal training battalion in the Army. Presently he works with the USSOCOM as part of the organization that develops training and researches new techniques and procedures.