Thoughts on the GFIRST 2013 Cancellation
GFIRST 2013 - 9th Annual Cyber Security Conference

Citing sequestration and the need for financial tightening, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) just canceled GFIRST 2013, a major cyber security conference that I was scheduled to speak at. Frankly, DHS may also have had some concerns about the scrutiny to which the IRS is currently being subjected for is expenditures.

You see, DHS hosts GFIRST for free. As someone who runs and organizes events myself, this boggles my mind. They host a 1500-person conference in a top-notch venue...for free. If I was running the event, I'd charge for conference tickets, I'd charge extra for hands-on classes, the vendors would be paying for their booths, and I'd be looking for sponsors to help subsidize the event.

Even if the event didn't turn a profit, I'd want it to cover as much of its expenses as possible. Anything that wasn't covered after that could probably be justified as a reasonable expense incurred in accomplishing DHS's mission: to educate and inform people about the dangers of cyber security attacks, including phishing, spearphishing, viruses, worms, etc.

Anyway, the GFIRST conference was going to be hosted in Grapevine, Texas in August, overlapping slightly with the 2013 World Science Fiction Convention. I was looking forward to my corporate overlords paying for my travel, while I also scooted over to the Worldcon, but it looks like I'm gonna be on my own dime now.


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