Right. First up. If you’re really not interested in ‘the feels’ of things (sorry, bad internet slangy thing), this post probably isn’t for you and I’m totally ok with you skipping it. This DOES NOT contain much about the actual cybercamp itself – more about the stuff I learned about me. It’s most likely not useful to anyone, other than me, but because people were asking me why I was sad, day two, I thought I better get this written up. I’m totally fine with you skipping this one and hitting Steampunkdragonfly (my new cyber/sec/policy blog – though, right this second it’s parked on another blog, just give it a few hours ;)) later today, when the less personal stuff goes up. That’s going to take a good few posts to cover actually – I’ve got screeds and screeds and screeds of notes to get through.
Before I pick up my blog where I left off, HI. Hi to all my new followers and all of my older followers and sorry I’ve been so quiet lately. I think the last post explains my mindset sufficiently, still, but I still wish I’d picked my blog back up sooner.
Secondly. If you’re based in the UK, go check out these guys:
The Cyber Security Challenge is one of the brilliant initiatives that I’m betting will lead the charge in plugging the gap between the experts we have and the expertise we need in Cyber Security. And I do want to emphasize that it’s not just ‘techies’ that’ll get a lot out of this. I’m a bit techie (though, not as much as the people I encountered at camp) but where I really apparently shone was policy. So if you’re interested, in the slightest in showcasing or upping your cyber security skills, and networking with like-minded people, get your butts over to the site. They’ve earned a permanent link from all of my blogs, and I’ll explain why in a second. And in all seriousness, thank you. I thought my life was quite nice before I went to the camp – and that I was doing the stuff I really wanted to. That PR was just as good as policy, if you removed the tech, and that it was ok to feel like there was a little missing. Thank you for showing me that, and being patient and kind and making sure I was ok, and paying attention to the little things. Thank you for it being perfect, start to finish. Thank you for bringing us all together. Thank you to the sponsors. Thank you to the staff. Thank you, a million times.
I’ve been looking for a use for one of the new blogs I was going to start – two actually, but the main one I was struggling with was ‘Steampunkdragonfly’. Originally it was going to be my amalgamation site, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized I really should just be doing that on Dkaiwilsonviola.
And then this Wednesday hit and my world got shoved sidewards off a cliff, flipped upside down and well…from there…I dunno. I’m still trying to process.
Let me explain….
Wednesday, I went to the Cyber Security Challenge at Shrivenham from Wednesday evening until Sunday. And I’ll be honest, I thought I’d be a bit of a spare part there – I’d learn some stuff but that no one would even notice me. Got that one wrong!
I arrived, got my stuff dumped and was pretty much approached straight away by four lads, who wanted to know *everything* about me. I had waited until they’d talked and then told them a tiny bit about myself. I was gobsmacked at how interested everyone was in me. Met two of the girls, confessed to being out of my depth (and in a freaking dress….I mean, that alone is like weddings only) and grabbed a drink. We all went for food and then the ‘getting to know you’ session started.
It was hilarious. I’ll be doing a proper write-up on the bits I can, and the stuff I personally got from it on said new blog, but I have to say something about the personal stuff that went on while I was there.
I don’t think it’s unfair to say that I struggle with the ‘social’ aspect of the world outside. I understand *everything* out there in theory, but in practice, I’m about three seconds away from bolting when I do something new. And when you’re planning your escape in the next ten seconds, constantly, there really isn’t much room for anything else. And it makes me very tense, and quite excitable, because that ‘bleeds’ through into my voice and then I say something stupid and everything just….yeah.
I’m not so much an introvert as someone that should live inside the space an introvert takes up when they’re really scared and need time to themselves. you know, that tiny cupboard? That’d be a good place for me. I’m an introvert’s introvert. Mostly because I have severe anxiety.
And it makes me *incredibly* lonely. Which is the weird part. Introverts aren’t meant to get lonely, right? But I do. I’m intensely lonely, to the point of making an idiot of myself cause I’m excited someone other than my other half or my very small circle of friends are talking to me in person/online.
Cybercamp – a bit like the best environment I could have designed….
What happens when you take 20 reasonably young people (*with a few notable exceptions, myself included), mix in a heaping spoonful of a really neat scenario (which was made public, so I can talk about that bit) where some tankers have struck something and they’re not sure of why etc. and it could be security related or coincidence. And that’s where we were chucked in.
FOUR DAYS of intense, hands on fun later and I’m dizzy. I learned about SQL injections, I learned about changing stuff browser side. I learned why hidden HTML fields are going to get you reamed, if you’re not careful.
But I learned that actually, I’m quite level headed and can keep most of my anxiety under control. I learned it’s ok to go off and have a cry, because I’m just not keeping up, but I didn’t need to make a fuss about it. I learned it’s ok to be afraid because a lot of the others there too were too. What’s not ok was letting it win, cause I’d have been the one losing out. And I can get up in front of people and do a presentation without having a panic attack afterwards. I got top three on day three and I learned that I did that way out of my own expectations and I did it because the teams I was on – throughout the whole challenge (and we swapped teams throughout the stay) – were absolutely amazing. I mean, top notch. So it wasn’t really me that did it all – it was all of us.
And I made friends. Lots of em. Heaps of em.
Hi guys 😉
One of the things I did say that caused a bit of worry though was how disheartened I was after one of the challenges. I’m going to specifically explain that one in a seperate post – but it was disheartened at how easily I fell into tunnel vision and looked only at tech rather than the hollistic whole. And everything they flagged had been something I’d thought of and we’d missed it because I was so intent on ‘keeping up’ with the boys – not because it was a competition, but because I didn’t want to be their single point of failure. In fact, I should have been the ‘failure’ there, so i could then drop into the bigger picture stuff. That was my own fault for not communicating effectively and not taking the time to do the ‘personal’ bit that I ususally do. I’m USUALLY the loon in most games that explores everything before moviung on – not because I’m indecisive but because RTFM or ‘TTFP’ (talk to fucking people!) is about the rule of thumb I have – I don’t go all on interrogate, but I didn’t pay attention to that and I disappointed myself. But, I learned from that and we did stellarly in day 3.
Oh yeah, and I clearly have NO situational awareness. I wasn’t aware that we were in a tent in the middle of the desert on an island for one challenge, though it was emphasized. I just saw the back wall as a partition and darted around it, not considering what it actually meant. For someone who’s supposed to be hyper aware of her surroundings, that was a bit of a fail – but on the other hand, it really highlighted how safe and how comfortable I was in the environment, and how much I trusted, not just the team members (who at one point had me sandwiched between them while messing with a server box (one on each side, really close quarters)) and though I was a bit aware and kept having to calmly say ‘please don’t touch me’ it was all good. That’s something I need to work on – one lad that went to pull me over so I was closer and up on a chair next to him (tight skirt, very tired, not getting the hang of hopping up onto the barstool) looked genuinely offended when I said ‘don’t touch me’, and I very nearly dashed out of the room because I’d hurt his feelings.
My next blog post, coming in about two hours (A bit of housekeeping) is to answer some of the questions I’ve been asked lately about ‘where do you write, where are your books, how do I follow you). Skip that one too if you want.
Otherwise, Day (x) blow by blow will appear on Steampunkdragonfly in the next 24 hours or so, starting with Day 0.
Kai is a writer, author and avid reader. A mental health advocate, Ludosport athlete and coder. She’s the mother of two young adults, owned by two cats, and lives with her beloved in the Cotswolds.