1. noun - A large sort of whale with a tusk. Like a sea unicorn.
2. noun - A gathering, scheming, and hangout space for the tech policy, law, wonk/wonk-adjacent, and compliance crowds, as well as others of good will and interesting conversation.
3. geo - Room 27074, at Flamingo.

Hacker Summer Camp 2018 (August 6-12, 2018), Flamingo, Las Vegas, NV.

Narwhal is a place at Hacker Summer Camp (Black Hat USA, Security BSides Las Vegas, and DEF CON) designed to provide a useful space for the tech policy / law / wonk (and wonk-adjacent) crowd to meet, hang out, and discuss stuff where it’s not so ridiculously loud as the con floors of any of the three cons. Generally, the idea is that this is a resource: a meeting or work area during the day for anyone who needs one, and in the evenings, a relaxed discussion group or salon.

Everyone is welcome at Narwhal! While we welcome support from the community to help make the space possible, we want everyone to be able to attend and/or present regardless of whether they've donated to the space. Donors get custom wooden badges as a token of our thanks, but everyone gets conversation, cocktails, and a separate space from the main Hacker Summer Camp conferences.

Below, please find relevant information about Narwhal. Questions/comments? Please contact [email protected].

Generally, the suite will be available during con-rational hours (roughly 2pm-11pm) Tuesday, August 7, through Sunday, August 12. We'll try to have someone there most of the time for general drop-ins and hanging out, but the suite is staffed by volunteers (volunteer nerds, to be fair), and all of us are attending the three big conferences as well. The suite will be open and particularly useful in the evenings, with hangouts, talks, or other events many evenings during the week. If you're a policy-type person and want to join us, do it!


  • Monday, August 6
    • 8pm-11pm Pregame Tableflip
      • Members of the Security BSides Proving Ground program (mentors and mentees) who have just attended the Pregame program on Monday: this is your opportunity to relax after you've given your practice talk. Come by, have a drink, and listen as experienced speakers---some of them Proving Ground alumni themselves---practice their talks for later in the week. Heckle if you feel the need, but Shmooballs will not be provided.
  • Wednesday, August 8
    • 7:00pm-8:30pm Talks
      • Translation, Please - Aaron Alva
      • Code Switching and Building Bridges - Terra Cooke
      • Manufacturing Relevance - Cheryl Biswas
    • 8:30pm Drinks and Chat
      • Where you can have a drink and chat with interesting people. We're not renting out the biggest nightclub in Vegas, nor are we cramming 600 people into a hotel room (there are plenty of opportunities for both at other parties).
  • Thursday, August 9
    • 7:00pm-8:30pm Talks
      • Cura Te Ipsum: Professionalizing Infosec, No Really - Tom Millar
      • Stopping Misinformation Attacks - Sara-Jayne Terp
    • 8:30pm Drinks and Chat
      • Where you can have a drink and chat with interesting people. We're not renting out the biggest nightclub in Vegas, nor are we cramming 600 people into a hotel room (there are plenty of opportunities for both at other parties).
  • Friday, August 10
    • 7:00pm-8:30pm Talks
      • Nations and Nationalism and Network Security - Joe Slowik
      • Westphalian Sovereignty is Dead (and Other Lies Clippy Told You) - Mara Tam (One Hour)
    • 8:30pm Drinks and Chat
      • Where you can have a drink and chat with interesting people. We're not renting out the biggest nightclub in Vegas, nor are we cramming 600 people into a hotel room (there are plenty of opportunities for both at other parties).

Narwhal is a gathering point for two separate (though closely related) ideas in security:

  • There needs to be a space in security for people who don't do red team work---policy, compliance, and academia are critical parts of security.
  • Wouldn't it be nice if there was a space for people who didn't hate on education, diverse backgrounds, and/or anything that reminded them there was more than one way to do and/or be security?

Why a Narwhal in particular? There are a few reasons, but the simplest is that parts of the security community like to pretend that work that's not all-offensive isn't real security work---or that people that aren't offensive for offense's own sake aren't security people, and don't really exist in the industry. The truth is that, like narwhals, we do exist (even if it's hard to prove). We're important to ecosystems and the world of security, and we're often misunderstood. And we could use a space to hang out in (because even though we've had many great tech policy discussions in a nightclub during a Black Hat party, it'd be neat if we could hear ourselves think while planning the next response to cartels named after Dutch suburbs).

The genesis of this suite came during hacker summer camp 2016, when Brendan and a group of five other wonkish sorts tried for 45 minutes to find a single place anywhere within 100 miles of DEF CON that wasn’t so loud they couldn’t hear each other talk. They failed, but an idea was born. Thus, Narwhal, where those of us who do security in weird ways can talk, scheme, plan, and hang out as a useful addition to all the wonderful things happening at the various cons!

If you’re reading this site, likely you! We encourage anyone of good will and interesting conversation to join us. Not allowed: bigots, haters, and people who think that the only useful security work is popping shells. (People who just like popping shells in concert with a larger panoply of security work are, of course, fine.) Know someone else who you think should know about this? Send them to this site!

Many people will have keys to the suite; people with keys are welcome to let others in and hold open hours. (Need to find a keyholder? Send a Twitter DM to @NarwhalBe.)

The suite will be at the Flamingo, across the skybridge from Caesar’s (DEF CON), and just a short hop away from the BSLV and BHUSA con hotels. We will post this year's room number as soon as we have it. We'll have a flag on the door!

How can you get involved?

  • Sign up for our emails! Want to make sure you hear about things as they're announced? Sign up for our ultra-low-traffic mailing list!
  • Show up! If you're interested, come by; check out the Twitter account for announcements on events and general open times; if you'd like more confirmation, send a DM to make sure.
  • Seriously, though, show up! This is the second year of Narwhal as a suite, so it's an experiment. It may be a terrible idea, in which case it won't return; if it goes well, we'll likely make it happen next year. We don't know what will happen until you show up!

Diversity and inclusion are a significant portion of why Narwhal exists. We encourage participation from the most varied and diverse backgrounds possible and want to be very clear about where we stand. Our goal is to maintain a safe, helpful, and friendly community for everyone. This code and related procedures also apply to unacceptable behavior occurring outside the scope of community activities, in all community venues--online and in-person--as well as in all one-on-one communications, and anywhere such behavior has the potential to adversely affect the safety and well-being of community members. (In other words, if you're a jerk, regardless of whether you're a jerk in the space, you'll be shown the door.)

Unacceptable behavior includes:

  • Nazi, fascist, or other imagery indicating a political viewpoint that begins with "X group aren't human beings." (We cannot believe that allegedly-major conferences can't figure this one out, but it's a hard line for us.)
  • Conduct or speech which might be considered sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, ableist or otherwise discriminatory or offensive in nature.
  • Using unwelcome, suggestive, derogatory or inappropriate nicknames or terms.
  • Inappropriate attention or contact. Be aware of how your actions affect others. If it makes someone uncomfortable, stop.
  • Not understanding the differences between constructive criticism and disparagement.

Understand that speech and actions have consequences, and unacceptable behavior will not be tolerated. Usually, this intolerance will involve being directed to leave via the door. Unusually, this intolerance will involve being directed to leave via any semipermeable membrane.

If you are the subject of, or witness to any violations of this Code of Conduct, please contact us by emailing [email protected]

Derived from the Slack Community Code of Conduct (CC-SA).