BloomCon: Hackers, rappers and speakers oh my

Nicole Kelly, Staff Writer

     This past weekend marked the second annual BloomCON conference on Bloomsburg University’s campus. On March 24-25, students, professors and forensic experts from around the world gathered in the Kher Union ballroom for the computer forensics and security conference. This is the second year Bloomsburg has hosted this event. It was created at Bloomsburg University in the spring of 2016 in order to fill a void for information security conferences in the northern region.

     This was the first year, however, that Bloomsburg incorporated Hak4Kidz into this event. Hak4Kidz is a subevent of BloomCON, in which 40 children and their parents were able to participate in activities related to information security as well as gain knowledge in this field. This event took place on Saturday in the fireside lounge.

     At the end of the weekend, a total of 36 speakers presented talks relating to information security. There were also several 2 to 4 hour workshops in which participants learned valuable skills in the field and even learned one-on-one instruction in the lock picking and hardware hacking villages. Additionally, BloomCON hosted three official competitions in digital forensics, open-source intelligence and wireless hacking that included prizes of a BloomCON badge and several handcrafted items from Dr. Polstra’s wood shop.

     Additionally, a networking party was hosted on Friday night. A popular hip hop group, nerdcore rapper Dual Core, performed at this event. Dr. Polstra, Associate Professor in the Department of Mathematical and Digital Sciences, says students from all major were in attendance, “While the topics covered are definitely of interest to Digital Forensics and Computer Science majors, all majors are welcomed.” Said Polstra. Polstra also says that the benefits of an event like this are numerous for university students.

     “We have speakers from all around the world who come to BloomCON to share their knowledge. By helping to run the conference students gain valuable experience. They also benefit by getting to know people who are looking for interns and recent graduates. Multiple students have gotten jobs and internships from speakers and sponsors.” Said Polstra.

     Polstra noted that the tickets to this event were free for anyone who wanted to attend. However, full-swag tickets could be purchased starting at $20 that included a t-shirt, a 3D printed badge and lunch both days.

     While this was only Bloomsburg’s second annual BloomCON, the Digital Sciences community at Bloomsburg could not have been happier with the turnout. BloomCON is expected to continue next year, with even more to come.