Hackers beware: Wichita to host hundreds of cybersecurity professionals this weekend

Nearly 200 people working or interested in information technology security will be in Wichita on Friday and Saturday for the city’s first professional conference on cybersecurity.

OzSec 2018 will be held at Wichita State University’s Experiential Engineering Building on Friday, and in the Business & Technology Building at Friends University on Saturday.

The conference is full and isn’t accepting additional registrations, said John Carney, one of the organizers and a 20-year cybersecurity professional at Koch Industries. Attendees are coming from as far as Kansas City, Oklahoma City, Salina and Hutchinson, he said.

Created by the local chapters of ISC2 and Information Systems Security Association, the conference aims to provide continuing education and networking for the region’s cybersecurity professionals.

“We’re not always great talking with each other,” Carney said. “This conference is designed to hopefully break down some walls.”

He said the conference also will have some tracks for entry level IT workers who want to bolster their skills in cybersecurity, “maybe augment their career path.”

Carney said the closest conferences similar to OzSec are typically held in Dallas or Kansas City. In other cases the area’s cybersecurity professionals have to travel to conferences in cities such as San Francisco and Las Vegas.

“We really had no idea what type of response we would get,” he said of the conference. “With very little marketing, we started gaining some traction.”

Carney said organizers are already thinking about next year’s conference. And they’re looking at ways they can get high school kids interested in a cybersecurity career. “You don’t necessarily need a college degree to succeed” in the field, he said.

They’re also looking at planning an event that they’re calling OzSecJV in April aimed at those students.

With “heavyweights like Cargill and Koch,” the Kansas Air National Guard’s 184th Intelligence Wing at McConnell Air Force Base, and cybersecurity degree programs at Wichita State and Friends, “Wichita is very dynamic when it comes to cybersecurity,” Carney said.

“I think there’s an opportunity to showcase that Wichita could have the foundations of a really dynamic cybersecurity resource in the area.”

Jerry Siebenmark: 316-268-6576, @jsiebenmark