During the last week, on days 18th, 19th, and 20th the third edition of Overdrive hacking conference happened in Girona, with more than 300 attendees growing so fast to become one of the computer security events of reference in the west side of Europe.
After about three months of very hard work putting everything together for the conference, from gathering the speakers, looking for sponsors, managing the logistics team and everything related and of course a week of sleeping about 2 hours per day coordinating this event “on the ground” all day I spend the whole weekend resting a little bit and as it is inevitable, thinking a lot about where we have been, where we are now and where do we want to go with overdrive and also with my second-family, the defcongroup dc170.
We first started overdrive at 2016, by that time our defcon group was just born with only 4 active members. We used to gather at a local bar near the university to talk about introductory topics on general computer security (exploiting, web hacking, re…) and exchange opinions, but that thing used to be pretty informal, nothing really serious was happening by that time there. However one day we decided to take a step forward and go for something big, I personally think that sometimes you have to take some risks and make a big jmp forward, otherwise you’ll be stuck in your position for some more time or even in the worst case you’ll start abandoning your project. So we decided to go for an international conference.
Why an international hacking conference in Girona?
If you look at the Spanish conference map, you can see a huge lack of english-spoken computer security events, almost everyone is spanish-national-focused if you compare that to other countries such as, Germany, The Netherlands or Romania for example you see the difference, so one of the main reasons for doing that is that we felt orphans of these kind of events in Spain. The other main reasons where about motivation; we though a big international high-tech event here in Girona may contribute in the motivation of all the young students, so they may start seeing that computer security is a really cool thing to do (and they may will want to join to dc170). The last reason in creating overdrive CON was to create a defcon-like event here in Europe.
Time to get hands-on
For the ones who visited the defcon conference in Vegas you may know what I’m talking about. A lot of events these days do just focus on tech-talks all day and we wanted to do something different here. Topics such as lockpicking or hardware hacking are super cool and well known “overseas” but not so easy to find in events around here so we decided to go for that. We imagined overdrive as a place where international speakers could have the chance to network with each other and share information in a non-formal context while the local community could learn about that and start putting that knowledge into practice right after.
The first editions
We started to work on those ideas and Overdrive I came on November 2016 with more th an 15 speakers from USA, Russia, UK, France, Poland and Austria among others… that event was wonderful, we have very nice memories about it and we had the chance to meet really nice people from other defcon groups such as nemus and metacortex. So the main thing we gained with that was the motivation of our whole team, the dc170 and the chance to know more about the defcon group concept by the people of dc801 who will always be our friends. We where so motivated that we decided to go for a second edition in less than a year. Overdrive II happened in September 2017, the work on that event happened right after the first edition, we decided to establish overdrive as a permanent conference (so, a long term project) at the university, carried by the students and the members of dc170. Needless to say, that right after the first edition of overdrive our group experienced a really important growth in members and also in motivation, we started delegating leadership such as event logistics, CFP or even internal trainings in different topics during the year into different members and that made our group grow and grow. After the second edition we were able to mobilize the whole engineering community at the technical school of Girona to support our group, we even got our own hackerspace!
Where are we now?
After Overdrive I as I mentioned, we started to do a lot of different things at our group, focusing not only in doing events but in learning ourselves and connecting with the community outside Girona. We started our github repository and we filled that with open source projects in topics from exploit analysis to OSINT gathering techniques, we started making internal trainings and collaborating in international projects made by others groups… and we started to go to some international events! Such as Defcon or Blackhat! Having the chance to get in touch with people who likes and does the same things you do all around the world is an amazing and an enriching opportunity we see hacking as a global movement and always try to learn as much as we can about how are things done in other parts of the world. The spirit of Defcon lead us straight to Overdrive part III with more than 20 speakers from Defcon groups in China, Russia and USA the third edition of the CON has been one of the most incredible things I’ve personally done in these past few years, having the chance to close a legendary trilogy with all these people, my team and done in this amazing way will always have a special place in my memory. I can’t tell where will the dc170 group will go now, we are just about to graduate and some of us will explore job opportunities all around the world even though will keep the group always in our hearths and will have a strong will to help, contribute and push things forward by running the extra mile if necessary. I think that now it is time to start working on the new leaderships of the group and at the same time, start new projects, keeping overdrive in Girona but exporting the overdrive con style in other parts of the world (and other places in Spain!) by the way we think, the way we work and the way we see the community.
Thanks for coming
So by now we will be keeping it real and we’ll keep doing informal hacking talks, hackathons, trainings and barbecues (and of course, the overdrive con) in Girona while we start collaborating in community meetings and talks in other places in Spain and abroad. I personally want to thank all the team at the university of Girona from the director to the management staff and the janitors for putting their time and effort in helping us, that wasn’t easy all the time, we missed some exams, we made a lot of noise and we even broke some stuff… I also want to thank dc170 for giving me the best moments of my university time and also people from organizations such as hacking lliure or noconname for jumping into our projects and pushing things forward, same goes to all of our attendees, this won’t be possible without you! At last but not least I want to let dc801 and all the other defcon groups that they are my hacking second-family, they taught me a lot about community, leadership and the defcon hacking spirit!
Things are just getting started!