Conferences Programming Tampa Bay What I’m Up To

“Prototype SPOOK-TACULAR FRANKEN-APPS with BRAINS!” – This Saturday at Tampa Code Camp

Tampa Code Camp, a day full of presentations and workshops for coders, is happening THIS SATURDAY at Keiser University — and better still, it’s FREE to attend! In fact, they even provide a free lunch, because you can’t learn or code on an empty stomach.

This year’s Tampa Code Camp has a Halloween theme, and so does my presentation, Prototype Spook-tacular “FrankenApps” with BRAAAAINS (AI)!!!

Here’s the abstract for my presentation, which will take place from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m.:

Modern AI is scary-smart, and as an aspiring mad computer scientist, you’ve probably wondered how you can write applications that harness the power of AI for your own purposes. Step into this lab, put your laptop on the slab, and learn how to take a brain (an artificial one) from a nearby graveyard (actually, from an API) and put it into your own applications!

In this hands-on session, you’ll learn how to quickly prototype “FrankenApps” — apps built from bits and pieces you can find lying about the internet — and take them to the next spooky level with…BRAINS! Or, more accurately, OpenAI’s APIs, which you’ll harness to get that ChatGPT goodness into your own applications.

You’ll learn about a mad computer scientist’s favorite tools — Jupyter Notebook and Python — and use them to quickly prototype AI-powered applications, such as a weather app that recites spooky poems about the current forecast, or a Halloween costume generator. Catch this session, learn something new, and have some Halloween fun, too!

Join me and the rest of Tampa Code Camp this Saturday at Keiser University for a day of learning, coding, camaraderie, and fun! The event runs from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m..

Register here — and remember, it’s FREE!

Conferences Security Tampa Bay What I’m Up To

Scenes from CyberX Tampa Bay 2023 (Tuesday, October 24, 2023)

Last year’s CyberX Tampa Bay event was a big hit, and it was only natural that there’d be another one this year. Like the first one, this year’s event was packed.

The moment I walked into the venue, I saw so many people and had so many conversations that I never got the chance to take pictures until the start of the “welcome” session in the large room:

A packed main room at CyberX Tampa Bay, with every seat full and lots of people standing.

Suzanne Ricci, Computer Coach’s CEO and one of the event co-organizers, welcomed the gathered throng to CyberX…

Suzanne Ricci at the front of the main room at CyberX Tampa Bay, delivering an opening speech.

…after which we had the choice of two breakout sessions:

  1. Chronicles of an Entry-level Cybersecurity Professional
  2. The Wheel of Misfortune
Banner for CyberX Tampa Bay 2023’s “Wheel of Misfortune,” featuring headshots of Jason Allen and Jonas Kelley.

I went to the Wheel of Misfortune, where audience members got the chance to answer cybersecurity questions for Google swag. Anyone in the audience could volunteer to come up to the front, spin the wheel of topics and answer a question based on that topic.

A contestant spins the multi-colored Wheel of Misfortune and Jason Allen and Jonas Kelley look on.

Hosts Jason Allen and Jonas Kelley were pretty relaxed about audience assistance. At one point, I yelled out the acronym for remebering the 7 layers of the OSI network model — “Please Do Not Take Sausage Pizza Away!” — and no one was penalized.

The front of the “Wheel of Misfortune” room. Every seat is taken.

The room, where every seat and available spot to stand was occupied, was lively, with people enjoying themselves. The audience participation, aided by two engaging hosts, kept the room lively until the very end.

The back of the “Wheel of Misfortune” room. Every seat is taken, and people at teh back are standing.

It was then time to recognize CyberX Tampa Bay’s 2023 honoree — someone nominated by attendees as being the person who made the biggest positive impact on Tampa Bay’s cybersecurity scene. This year’s honoree was Jeremy Rasmussen!

A packed main room watching Jeremy Rasmussen being honored.

And to close the evening, there was the keynote panel on cybersecurity myths. It featured…

Banner for the 2023 CyberX Tampa Bay keynote panelists, featuring headshots of Courtney Jackson, Mark Keller, Ryan WIlliams, Joey de Villa, Ebony Pierce, and Bryson Bort.
The keynote panel: Courtney Jackson, Mark Keller, Ryan WIlliams, Joey de Villa, Ebony Pierce, and Bryson Bort.
Photo by Kasandra Perez. Tap to view at full size.

(pictured above, from left to right…)

  1. Courtney Jackson
  2. Mark Keller
  3. Ryan Williams
  4. Yours Truly, Joey de Villa
  5. Ebony Pierce
  6. Bryson Bort
The keynote panel, viewed from the side: Courtney Jackson, Mark Keller, Ryan WIlliams, Joey de Villa, Ebony Pierce, and Bryson Bort.

We covered these myths:

  • Mark: “Cybersecurity is an IT problem.”
  • Ryan: “You don’t have transferable skills.”
  • Me: “Compliance and security are the same thing,” complete with a reference to this scene from the original Jackass movie.
  • Ebony: “Cybersecurity threats are only an external issue.”
  • Mark: “Macs are more secure than PCs.”
  • Ryan: “We passed the compliance assessment so we can rest on our laurels.”
  • Me: “I’m too small to be a target,” with a story about (ahem) borrowing cable from the bar next door.
  • Ebony: “Cybersecurity threats require careful planning and really smart people.”
  • Bryson: “Security Awareness training works.”
Banner featuring the 2023 CyberX Tampa Bay organizers: Ashley Putnam, Kasandra Perez, Courtney Jackson, and Suzanne Ricci.

This amazing event wouldn’t have been possible without the organizers…

…or without the sponsors:

Conferences Tampa Bay What I’m Up To

Scenes from GDG DevFest Tampa Bay (Saturday, October 21, 2023)

I attended Google Developer Groups’ DevFest Tampa Bay event this past weekend, which took place in USF’s Engineering building and featured a healthy number of students in attendance.

The “Fireside with CEOs” chat featured…

…and they shared their leadership experiences, both good and bad. I bounced between their session and this one:

This was ArtemisNet’s session on creating a USB Rubber Ducky, a favorite toy from the hacker’s bag of tricks. It looks like an ordinary USB flash drive, but when plugged in, it sends keystroke signals to the victim’s computer, which thinks it’s an ordinary keyboard. Typically, an attacker would pre-program it to type commands to perform all sorts of security-breaching actions, such as collecting sensitive files or security information and then exfiltrating it for later analysis.

(If you thought you’d seen something like this on a TV show before, you probably did; there was one in Mr. Robot.)

Of course, you need some kind of small processing device to build a Rubber Ducky, and ArtemisNet provided them, free of charge — a Raspberry Pi Pico! Here’s mine:

Afterwards, I bounced over to the other room to see Liz Myers’ “Coffee, Code, and Tensorflow” session…

…and also caught bits of the Flutter and hackathon sessions.

And finally, my employer, Okta, was one of the event sponsors. As their representative here in “The Other Bay Area”, I’m working on getting them to sponsor more local events. Watch this space!

Conferences Tampa Bay

Local developer conferences in October

Hey, Tampa Bay — it’s going to be a busy October…

Google Developer Groups DevFest Central Florida: October 14th in Sanford

DevFest Central Florida is a community-run one-day conference aimed to bring technologists, developers, students, tech companies, and speakers together in one location to learn, discuss and experiment with technology. It will take place on Saturday, October 14th at Seminole State College’s Sanford/Lake Mary Campus in Sanford.

Tickets are $25 – $50 and are available here.

Google Developer Groups DevFest Tampa Bay: October 21st in Tampa

DevFest Tampa Bay is a community-run one-day conference aimed to bring technologists, developers, students, tech companies, and speakers together in one location to learn, discuss and experiment with technology. It will take place on Saturday, October 21st at University of South Florida in Tampa.

You can register for DevFest Tampa Bay here.

TampaCC: October 28th in Tampa

TampaCC — a.k.a. Tampa Code Camp or Tampa Community Connect — is dedicated to creating a transformative and immersive event that dives deep into the realms of cloud-based technologies. Developers, architects, security professionals, and visionary leaders are invited to showcase their knowledge, share groundbreaking techniques, and pave the way for the next generation of cloud innovation. It will take place on Saturday, October 28th at Keiser University in Tampa.

If you want to speak at this event, check out the call for speakers.

If you’d like to attend, register on their Meetup page.

Conferences Security Tampa Bay What I’m Up To

Scenes from BSides St. Pete 2023

I attended BSides St. Pete last Saturday, the second anniversary of this event, and it was nice to see that attendance had more than doubled. It’s nice to see the that the Tampa Bay cybersecurity community is active on both sides of “The Other Bay Area!”

BSides gets it name from “b-side,” the alternate side of a vinyl or cassette single, where the a-side has the primary content and the b-side is the bonus or additional content. In 2009, when the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas received way more presentation submissions than they could take on, the rejected presenters (who still had very could presentations; there just wasn’t enough capacity for them) banded together and made their own “b-side” conference that ran in parallel with Black Hat. From that event came BSides.

Since then, BSides conferences have been held over the world. As of September 2023, nearly 900 have been held, including BSides Tampa X — the 10th BSides Tampa conference — which took place in April. BSides St. Pete 2023 took place at St. Petersburg College’s Seminole Campus and had over 300 attendees.

Opening keynote: Between Two Palms: A Session on Burnout

The day started at 9 with the opening keynote, which took place not only on the main stage, but between two palm plants, as promised in its title:

The keynote was a frank discussion moderated by John “Cochise” Buzin (one of my instructors at the UC Baseline cybersecurity course I took in the summer of 2020) and featured Chris Machowski (also one of the people behind the UC Baseline course) and Elvira Reyes.

While they stated quite clearly that they aren’t psychology professionals, they are very active in the cybersecurity field, and each of them knows something about burnout from personal experience.

Over their talk, they talked about what they identified as the five stages of burnout, starting with stage one, the honeymoon phase:

This stage is marked by the following:

  • Job satisfaction
  • Accepting responsibility
  • Sustained energy levels
  • Unbridled optimism
  • Commitment to the job
  • Compulsion to prove oneself
  • Free-flowing creativity
  • High productivity levels

Stage two is the onset of stress:

In this stage, you’ll experience:

  • CV symptoms
  • Inability to focus
  • Irritability
  • Reduced sleep quality
  • Lack of social interaction
  • Lower productivity
  • Anxiety
  • Avoidance of decision-making
  • Change in appetite
  • Headache
  • Neglect of personal needs
  • Fatigue

Then comes stage three — chronic stress:

Symptoms of this stage include:

  • Persistent tiredness
  • Procrastination
  • Resentfulness
  • Social withdrawal
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Apathy
  • Chronic exhaustion
  • Cynical attitude
  • Decreased sexual desire
  • Denial of problems
  • Feeling threatened
  • Feeling pressured
  • Alcohol/drug consumption

Next, stage 4, burnout:

Here’s what you’ll experience in this stage:

  • Obsession with problems
  • Pessimistic outlook
  • Physical symptoms
  • Self-doubt
  • Social isolation
  • Chronic headaches
  • Chronic GI problems
  • Neglect of personal needs
  • Escapist activities
  • Behavioral changes

And finally, stage 5 — habitual burnout:

And with this comes:

  • Chronic sadness
  • Chronic mental fatugue
  • Chronic physical fatigue
  • Depression

After this rather gloomy description of burnout’s stages came the things you can do to counter burnout:

They generally boil down to “take better care of yourself,” which is in agreement with what the Mayo Clinic says.

I thought their use of the iconography from the Fallout games for the topic of burnout was pretty clever.

Anonymous trooper

I passed by this fella on the way to the next session:

How to build a cybersecurity journey

I caught a bit of Ivan Marchany’s session, How to Build a Cybersecurity Journey, one of the presentations that covered how one gets into the business of cybersecurity.

Among other things, he covered building your own cybersecurity lab…

…and reminded the audience that as far as prospective employers and clients are concerned, you are your projects:

And equally important is the fact that if you don’t have some kind of online presence in this day and age, you effectively don’t exist to employers and clients:

This was a popular topic, and Ivan was playing to a standing-room-only audience:

Cyber risk management

I also caught the tail end of Dan Holland’s presentation, Complexity is the Enemy: How to start doing Cyber Risk Management. I’m pretty sure I arrived at one of the most important slides, the “risk as a product of probability and impact” slide:

I plan to share this slide on the Okta Slack’s “random” channel:

And here are the takeaways from Dan’s presentation:

A Urinal Story: Human Behavior & Security

Somehow, I managed to miss the “urinal story” part of Daniel Lopez’ and Ashwini Machlanski’s presentation on helping firm up the human element in cybersecurity. They covered key parts of managing people through the use of behavioral science and little tricks like “nudges” to get people to be more security-compliant.

This slide summarizes their key takeaways quite well:

Ashwini and Daniel handed out my favorite stickers from the conference:

My one tragic mistake

In wandering the halls and checking out what was happening in other rooms, I failed to catch Stacey Oneal’s Getting into Cybersecurity presentation, which was on my list. I owe her one — I promise I’ll catch you at your next presentation, Stacey!


Lunch was provided by two local food trucks:

Super Grouper hadn’t opened by the time I got to the trucks, so I got an Elvis Burger from 1 Up. It’s been a while since I last had a peanut butter-and-bacon burger, and I enjoyed mine. I know it sounds weird, but it’s worth trying!

Lunch keynote: Becoming a Proactive Defender

While having lunch, I caught most of Christopher Peacock’s presentation, Becoming a Proactive Defender:

I’m going to steal his line, “The best teacher is the adversary; the adversary always gets a vote.”

IAM Security and So Can You: An Intro to Identity Access Management and How to Beat It to a Pulp

I’ve been told that there was a presenter at BSides Tampa that was a bit of dick and overdid it with his bad-mouthing Okta while I wasn’t in the room, so while this talk featured a different presenter, you’d better bet your ass that I was going to be at this one.

But Jarred “Raydar” Pemberton was a lot more reasonable than the other guy. He got an intro from Cochise, who not only mentored him, but convinced him that he should give this presentation. That was a good call; in matters of cybersecurity, if Cochise suggests you do something, it’s generally a good idea to do it.

“Does SSO scare red teamers?” Jarrad asked. “Yes,” he plied to his own question, saying that it’s the kind of thing he shied away from.

Jarrad told us about what he does for a living. It’s always fascinating to see how people who use the stuff we make work with it:

Take note of that last point: in addition to the HR staff or outside HR consultants like “The Bobs,” another person that might be at your termination meeting is someone whose job is to close your work accounts.

If you’re ever unfortunate enough to be a guest at a layoff meeting, you may encounter “The Bobs” (a term from the film Office Space). Find out more about them here.

I’m actually on the Auth0 side of Okta, which provides a service for customer logins, versus the Okta side of Okta, which handles SSO (single sign-on) for the workforce. My experience with the Okta service is mostly as a user: I use it to log into systems at work:

Yup, that’s an Okta slide! Jarrad’s take on Okta:

  • “One that I work a lot with and do like quite a bit”
  • “Super easy to use”
  • “Simple to get brought up to speed”
  • “It’s what I would recommend to an org if they can afford it”

(Note to self: Send Jarrad some swag.)

SSO, in addition to letting a workforce since into various work systems with a single set of credentials, has other uses, including certain HR-related tasks:

  • Monitoring access and, by virtue of knowing who’s logging into what, see who’s really coming into the office and who’s merely pretending to do so
  • Easily hitting the “off” button for an employee when necessary

Jarrad then went into the different types of SSO, starting with cookie sharing. It’s typically used with internally-developed applications, such as home-grown HR and payroll applications at less mature organizations that haven’t graduated to SaaS application, and if those applications have a common parent domain (that is, if they live on an URL of the form *.your-domain-here.your-tld-here. He recommends against it, as it’s pretty much broken.

He then talked about SAML — Security Assertion Markup Language — an open-standard, XML-based framework for authentication and authorization between two entities without a password.

Want to know more about OAuth? Check out my teammate Matt Raible’s article, What the Heck is OAuth?

Most of his talk was focused on the standard that also happens to be my livelihood: OAuth or Open Authorization, the open standard for access delegation, which is often used to grant websites or applications access to user information without giving them their login credentials.

He also quickly mentioned Kerberos, which is for authenticating requests among trusted hosts on an untrusted network:

Here’s some good advice from all you pentesters. Be sure to follow them, especially that last one:

It’s not the early 2000s anymore; stop using shared cookies as SSO! All an attacker has to do is acquire a cookie, and they become a legitimate person in the organization, free to wreak havoc.

There’s a particular vulnerability that is an attacker’s dream, where the *.site.tld domain is deleted, but its C record in the DNS isn’t. An attacker could register that subdomain and gather cookies, and eventually, lots of organization data:

When it comes to OAuth, you’re looking for implementation vulnerabilities, in either the client application, or the OAuth service.

In the OAuth flow, only the IdP (identity provider) holds the user credentials, which are contained in the ID token. As an attacker, you want to somehow steal the ID token, which you can then use the request the access token, which is the key to the resources you want to get your paws on.

Because of its delegated nature, OAuth relies on open redirects. A poorly-built or -configured OAuth service that fails to use a list of allowed redirect URIs could be exploited, but that’s the sort of thing that Auth0 doesn’t allow.

As far as CSRF (cross-site request forgery) attacks are concerned, they can be mitigated with OAuth 2.0’s state parameter. For each authentication request, set it to a hard-to-guess value, and see if the response is the same as the one you sent with the request.

And of course, there’s always checking for bad implementations of the standard:

Here’s another meme I’m going to share on the Okta Slack:

And finally, there’s SAML. As the mobile specialist for Auth0, I never touch the stuff:

But if you’re doing pentesting on a SAML-based setup, you’ll want to use SAML Raider, which add SAML-specific functions to Burp Suite:

Last presentations of the day

I caught a bit of Dan Fernandez’ presentation, The Boring Parts of AI: Risks and Governance of Large Language Models — you can find the slides here

…and a sliver of Cochise’s How to Wage War and Bypass Congress: a Primer on Gray Zone Warfare preso, because it’s always fun to see him go off on a rant.

Thank you, BSides St. Pete!

To Wilson Bautista and the BSides St. Pete team, my thanks for a great event for the cybersecurity community to share knowledge and gather together!

(And happy birthday, Wilson!)

Conferences What I’m Up To

I’ll be at the Oktane conference in San Francisco (Oct 3 – 5)!

Moscone Center, San Francisco.
Moscone Center, San Francisco.
Photo by Miguel Gonzalez.
Yup, I work at Okta, where I hold the title of Senior Developer Advocate.

If you’re thinking “Hey! I thought you worked at Auth0!”, that’s because Okta acquired Auth0 in May 2021. I work in the part of Okta that makes the Auth0 product.

My third anniversary at this job is coming soon — October 19th. For those interested in the story of how I landed this gig, see my article from October 2020: How I landed my job at Auth0.

I’ll be in San Francisco’s Moscone Center West at Oktane, which runs from Tuesday, October 3 through Thursday, October 5, and I’ll help run a developer booth on Developer Day, which happens on the Thursday. It’ll be in San Francisco at Moscone Center (Moscone West, to be precise). If you’re planning on attending, let me know — I’d love to catch up!

What is Oktane?

Oktane is Okta’s big annual conference, where the subject matter is all things related to digital identity.

If you’re a reader of this blog, there’s a good chance that you use at least one of Okta’s two major systems:

  • The workforce identity solution, which most people refer to as just “Okta,” to log into the various systems you use for work.
  • The customer identity solution, which goes under the brand name “Auth0 by Okta” (or “Auth0” for short), to log into applications as a customer user.

I’ll be there to help demonstrate multifactor authentication with a YubiKey, which you can keep if you try out the process…

A Yubikey.

…and I’ll also be helping out with the demo where you can try out the Auth0 CLI, which lets you do just about everything you can do on the Auth0 administrative dashboard, but on the command line:

Terminal window displaying the command “auth0 test login”.

And of course, I’ll have you-know-what with me…

Joey deVilla playing his blue accordion with an “Auth0” sticker on it.

Can you attend Oktane?

The Developer Hub at Oktane.

Yes, you can, and there are a couple of ways to attend…

If you’re a developer, you’ll probably get the most bang for your buck with the Developer Pass, which sells for a mere US$199. The Developer Pass gives you access to:

  • Keynote and luminary speakers presentations
  • Expo hall
  • The Developer Day event (see below)
  • Oktane online sessions

If you want the full in-person experience, you’ll want the Full Conference Pass, which sells for US$699 and gives you access to:

  • Keynote and luminary speakers presentations
  • Expo hall
  • In-person breakout sessions
  • Hands-on workshops
  • The Wednesday night party
  • The Developer Day event (see below)
  • Oktane online sessions

And finally, there’s the FREE option — the Oktane Online Pass, which gives you online access to:

  • Keynote and luminary speakers presentations
  • Oktane online sessions

To get any of these passes, visit the registration page.

Conferences Programming Tampa Bay What I’m Up To

DevOpsDays Tampa Bay 2023: Thursday, September 21!

DevOpsDays Tampa Bay logo laid over an aerial photo of a beach.

DevOpsDays Tampa Bay, our local edition of the DevOpsDays conferences, takes place next Thursday, September 21st, at Armature Works! Tickets are $150, and there are deals for students. Register before it’s too late!

DevOpsDays is the name given to a series of community-run technical conferences covering topics where software development (the “dev” part) and IT infrastructure operations (the “ops” part) intersect. A DevOpsDays conference isn’t a commercial affair; instead, it’s a labor of love made possible by volunteers from the community, for the benefit of the community. This makes for a friendly “community” feel, which I love in a conference.

Nora Jones keynote!

Nora Jones giving a presentation onstage. Behind her is a wall-size projection of one of her slides illustrating a unit test.

Nora’s name is often mentioned in the same breath as the phrase “chaos engineering,” which is “the process of testing a distributed computing system to ensure that it can withstand unexpected disruptions.” Or, to put it more succinctly, “f*** around and find out.”

She started doing chaos engineering as a team lead and senior developer at (it’s since been acquired by Walmart), continued doing it at Netflix, and at Slack, she held the title of Head of Chaos Engineering and Human Factors. She’s also the co-author of the O’Reilly book Chaos Engineering: System Resiliency in Practice. These days, she’s at Jeli, where she’s the founder and CEO.

DevOpsDays Tampa Bay will start with her keynote, How do we talk to each other?, which will run from 9:00 – 10:00 a.m.

Here’s the abstract:

How surfacing communication patterns in organizations can help you understand and improve your resilience.

As a system increases in inevitable complexity, it becomes impossible for a single operator to have a clear, unambiguous understanding of what’s happening in the system. Understanding the system requires a joint effort between teammates and technology. Often, we are too focused on the single-operator experience to improve this. In this talk, we will uncover how communication patterns in organizations can reveal how systems actually work in practice, vs how we think they work in theory — and use this knowledge to improve the resilience of our systems.


Here are the conference talks, which will run from shortly after 10:00 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.

  • Realigning DevOps: Customers and Learning First, with Kishore Jalleda
  • The Startup DevOps Playbook – Making It A Success From Day One, with Aman Sharma
  • Building Resilience: A Journey of Crafting and Validating Our Disaster Recovery Plan, with Yedidya Schwartz
  • The Power of DevOps in the Real World, with Randy Pagels
  • Simplifying Cloud Native Chaos Engineering: A Deep Dive into Chaos Mesh, with Soumyadip Chowdhury
  • Best Practices for Securing CI/CD Pipelines, with Lizz Parody
  • The OpenTelemetry Hero’s Journey: Working with Open Source Observability, with Josh Lee

Open Spaces

DevOpsDays Tampa Bay is just one of the events in the Tampa Bay tech scene’s September to Remember!

From 2:45 to 4:30 p.m., there will be Open Spaces, which are unscripted and spontaneous breakout sessions on any DevOps topic. Who determines what the topics are? You do!

DevOpsDays Tampa Bay’s Open Spaces will follow the Open SPace principles, which are simple yet powerful guidelines:

  • Whoever comes are the right people.
  • Whatever happens is the only thing that could have.
  • Whenever it starts is the right time.
  • Whenever it’s over, it’s over.
  • Wherever it happens is the right place.

Armature Works!

And finally, there’s the venue itself: Armature Works, Tampa’s food hall, and my favorite local conference venue. It’s a great space to hold an event, and the food and drink there make conferences so much better. I know I’m going to get a Buddy Brew Coffee and a Bake’N Babes cookie while I’m there.

How do you find out more / get a ticket?

Head over to the DevOpsDays Tampa Bay site to find out more, and to get a ticket, visit their “purchase a ticket” page.