From Google to IKEA, Nullcon’s roll call of illustrious sponsors is an instructive barometer of our conference’s success and impact on the infosec community.
Consider the latest edition, Nullcon Goa 2023, which featured Silicon Valley pioneers Palo Alto Networks (gold sponsor), Microsoft (silver), AWS, ServiceNow and Google Android (bronze), and Salesforce among 30 sponsors in total.
How does Asia’s largest international security conference secure such impressive sponsors?
‘Showcase our expertise’
“Nullcon uniquely positioned our brand, BugBase, in the spotlight within the diverse and dynamic cybersecurity community,” says Dhruva Goyal, founder and CEO of vulnerability intelligence platform BugBase, a bronze sponsor at Nullcon Goa 2023.
“As India’s largest bug bounty platform, our presence at Nullcon allowed us to connect directly with a wide array of attendees, from budding infosec students (our researchers) to CISOs (our consumers).”
Nullcon Goa 2023, which took place in September, was also “immensely beneficial” for the SANS Institute, the event’s ‘knowledge partner’, according to Arindam Roy, India and South Asia country director at the global provider of cybersecurity training, certifications and research.
“It provided a unique platform to interact with influential figures and thought leaders, fostering valuable connections among peers and professionals from diverse sectors. Nullcon served as a prime opportunity to showcase our expertise, curriculum and course lineup to a targeted audience.
Roy adds: “Moreover, engaging with the community, we had the chance to share our knowledge, contribute to collective learning and actively participate in the vibrant cybersecurity ecosystem.”
Learning, upskilling, networking
Nullcon attendees can update their knowledge via research-driven technical talks, learn new skills through hands-on technical trainings, showcase their hacking talents at Capture-the-Flag (CTF) competitions, and further their careers via the Resume and Career Clinic and multiple networking opportunities.
Sponsors, meanwhile, can connect with visitors throughout the conference, including on the exhibition floor as well as the closing cocktail party. “Participants get great opportunities for networking, connecting with peers, industry leaders and potential collaborators,” says Roy.
Alongside AI company Fractal, another sponsor, telco giant Airtel, also hardened its products courtesy of a live bug bounty competition that took place during the event.
Diverse and truly global
This compelling blend of features attracts a crowd that is diverse in terms of gender, skills, sector and seniority.
What’s more, the trainings, realistic CTF challenges, mentoring opportunities and leadership skills instilled through virtual Nullcon community Winja equip talented graduates with both hard and soft skills and help to plug the infosec skills gap. This makes Nullcon a happy hunting ground for organisations on the lookout for up-and-coming infosec talents.
The diversity of Nullcon’s audience applies geographically too, enhancing Nullcon’s appeal to sponsors operating in multiple regions. This includes India-based sponsors Airtel Business (silver sponsor), Innspark (bronze), Secfence and Cloudsek.
While India-based attendees were unsurprisingly the biggest contingent attending the India-based event, 10% of visitors came from more than 20 other countries. Germany, the UK, the US and UAE were the most heavily represented.
“This gathering, unlike other events, brought together people from across India and globally, providing unparalleled networking opportunities and visibility that are hard to replicate elsewhere,” says Goyal.
Alongside increasing diversity, overall attendance figures have climbed steadily since the inaugural event in 2010. Nullcon Goa recently attracted a record 2,900-plus attendees.
Arindam Roy from the SANS Institute, an integral part of Nullcon from the start, notes the conference’s “remarkable evolution”, adding that “the surge in attendees reflected an expanding interest in the subject matter”.
Bugbase sponsored Nullcon in 2022 and 2023. “I’ve witnessed its remarkable growth in scale and impact,” says Goyal. “The continuous evolution is evident not just in the increasing number of attendees but also in the expanding scope of discussions, making it an ever-more integral part of the infosec landscape.”
Naturally, there were plenty of cybersecurity firms among the sponsors in Goa, including Cyble (gold sponsor), Cyware, Chaleit Group, HackerOne, Bugcrowd, OffSec, Recorded Future, Tenable, DNIF HYPERCLOUD and ElcomSoft. Tech sponsors whose core services are unrelated to security included Visa and Stryker (the medical tech developer was a bronze sponsor).
Particularly notable was the sponsorship of Nullcon by bricks-and-mortar retail giants IKEA and Tesco (bronze sponsors) and the automotive brand Daimler Truck. Their presence simultaneously attests to Nullcon’s stellar reputation and, amid ongoing digital transformation, the reality that cybersecurity is now core to all businesses.
Conducting business at Nullcon is also facilitated by an invaluable trinity of industry, academic and governmental representation. Nullcon Goa sponsors also included India’s Birla Institute of Technology and the Indian government’s National Technical Research Organisation (silver sponsor).
Also attending the event were the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Technical University Berlin, the Indian Ministry of Defense, India’s National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIP) and the Reserve Bank of India.
“Nullcon formed valuable partnerships with industry organisations, governmental bodies and technology companies, elevating the conference’s content and resources,” observes Roy. He also notes “a commendable increase in community engagement” and “increased efforts to make the conference globally impactful, with a focus on addressing cybersecurity challenges on a broader scale.”
Unrivalled technical talks
Goyal says “Nullcon stands out in the crowded landscape of tech conferences due to its dedicated focus on security research and security-oriented talks.”
Delivered by the world’s finest security researchers, the latest program featured a keynote from Microsoft Security’s research chief, an Apple HomePod jailbreak and PortSwigger’s James Kettle realising the ‘True Potential’ of web race condition attacks. Nullcon Goa also debuted a streamlined, more user-friendly Call For Papers (CFP) system.
“The talks and workshops cover important and diverse topics in cybersecurity, adding a lot of value for everyone involved,” says Roy, adding that Nullcon is “a platform for thought leaders to share insights, best practices, contributing to the intellectual growth of all participants.”
Continues Goyal: “Unlike other conferences that often lean towards general thought leadership or vendor promotion, Nullcon provides a platform for in-depth technical discussions, which resonates deeply with me as a hacker myself. This focus creates a unique environment where participants, whether exhibitors, speakers or industry professionals, can delve into substantial security issues and advancements, fostering a more enriched and informed community.”
Nullcon’s next edition is Nullcon Berlin, taking place at the Courtyard by Marriott in Berlin, Germany between 11-15 March 2024.