THOTCON

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Karina Kokina
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THOTCON

THOTCON is a hacking conference that takes place in Chicago, Illinois, in the United States. This is a non-profit, non-commercial event with the goal of putting on the finest conference possible on a shoestring budget.

You will have experienced one of the top information security conferences in the world paired with a uniquely relaxed and sociable experience if you attend a THOTCON event.

We are not sure if THOTCON events take place every year – but be sure to check back, and if we ever see an event listed then we will place it on this resource.

Also! Be sure to also check out our interview with the founder below!

THOTCON Events in 2022 - 2023

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United States | Illinois, Chicago
October 1, 2022
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Interview

We caught up with THOTCON founder, Nicholas J Percoco to ask him a bunch of questions about THOTCON.

THOTCON is one of the best Cybersecurity Conferences taking place in Chicago. Every year it takes place in a secret location. Originally the security event lasted a single day but evolved into two days packed full of talk, hacking villages, and other activities. In this “Spotlight” post we talk to one of the cofounders Nicholas J Percoco to ask him a bunch of questions about this fantastic event.

THOTCON also includes what they call “Turbo Talks” which are shorter more concise research presentations. This iconic Midwest Hacker Conference was founded by a bunch of people, namely, Nicholas J. Percoco, Matt Jakubowski, Jonathan Tomek, John Mocuta, and David “VideoMan” Bryan.

The Interview
Without further ado, let’s get to it!

Do you have any intention of expanding THOTCON outside of Chicago?
We have had a few requests over the years, but as of right now there are no plans to do a THOTCON outside of Chicago. The event is put on by volunteers and a two-day event once per year is already a pretty large time commitment for many of the lead volunteers.

You’ve hosted amazing presentations at THOTCON over the years, how do you select CFP applicants? Do you look for ‘specific achievements’ or ‘talents’? The reason we ask is so that we can share your selection criteria with people reading this interview that might like to apply to speak at THOTCON.

We tend to focus on a mix of modern topics mixed with some old-school technology. We feel that a new generation of hackers needs to be exposed to technology that may seem outdated but are still being actively used in the real world. We also like to find a mix of well-known speaks with those who are up and coming in the security industry. We’ve been able to do so by just focusing on the content we want to present to our audience. We think of THOTCON as a two-day event, not just a conference so careful thought has to be put into the selection of talks. We’ve actually turned away some well-known speakers because their content didn’t fit the mix of talks we wanted for the event. We also look to invite at least 4 well-known speakers as keynotes each year.

How would you like to see THOTCON evolve in the future?
We announced that we are now a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization recently.

This will allow us more options when planning events. It will also allow our attendees and other supports to make tax-deductible donations. We’ve been approached by several people in the past and this will allow us to provide more longevity for THOTCON.

We love your contests! How did you come up with these ideas? (It certainly makes for an interesting event!)
The contests are the brainchildren of Jaku and Sake. They spent a number of years competing in the Mystery Challenge at DEF CON and have built upon those experiences to create highly engaging and creative challenges year after year.

Lastly, what do you feel differentiates THOTCON from the rest of the conferences out there? Or, better said, what in your view makes THOTCON special?
THOTCON is very focused on the experience for our attendees, volunteers, and speakers. We also do not take any sponsorship money for the conference itself. This means the THOTCON brand stands on its own in most forms for presentation – from the items in every attendee’s bag to the signage at the event. It is also about THOTCON and the community that supports it, not about who provided the most funding.

We do believe engagement between the security community and vendors is important as well, so we focus that energy on throwing an amazing after-party by utilizing 100% of the funds raised from the after-party sponsorships. At the event, the sponsorship gets to mingle and build relationships in a casual party venue.

Unlike many of the security or hacking conferences out there, THOTCON is not a source of income for any of the organizers. All money raised from ticket sales goes directly into funding and improving the conference each year.

In Summary
A big thanks for Nicholas for the interview and we wish THOTCON the best of success for the future!.

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