Blackhat Asia 2023 took place on the 11th and 12th of May 2023 in the Marina Bay Sands Expo in Singapore. This blog will cover my experience of the conference, including a comparison to last year, along with references to those who I met along the way.
I’d like to thank Lisa again for the white chocolate Reese’s and dark chocolate M&Ms she brought, in exchange for stroopwafels and jodenkoeken. While the dark chocolate M&Ms are a personal favourite of mine, my girlfriend very much enjoys the white chocolate Reese’s, all of which were finished within two days upon my return.
Compared to last year’s edition, this edition was significantly larger. The world has opened up again since the COVID-19 pandemic has largely subdued, which allowed more participants to come to the conference, and more vendors to (literally) open shop. As such, the business hall, and subsequently the Arsenal area, were a lot more crowded!
Meeting new people is always part of a conference, as is meeting those you already know. I met up with Xiaomayi, who helps me to manage several of my Telegram groups. The meetup, just like last year, was great fun. Additionally, I met my colleague Tomer, who I had not met in real life yet! While I am usually taller than the average length of people in Singapore, Tomer made me look like a smurf (though I’m not a tiny blue creature). It was great to meet up and exchange some banter over dinner.
Tomer introduced me to Yuval, with who we had a great time as well. Yuval gave an Arsenal presentation about PyExfil, a project that (much like many others) started out as something small and insignificant, until it got a life on its own.
The folks from WithSecure who I met were great fun to talk with as well, and told me all about the cultures of Singapore and Sri Lanka! It was interesting to learn more about the local cultures, while explaining how some things differ with the Dutch culture.
Singapore is a beautiful place, during both the day and night, although the relentless humid heat is ever present. The Netherlands is still in spring, slowly going towards summer(ish) weather, Singapore is (from a Dutch perspective) always in peak summer temperatures, with skyrocketing humidity. I expected this weather, especially based on my experience last year, and dressed accordingly, but I’d lie if I said that upon returning home, I wasn’t overjoyed with the 18 degrees sunny weather.
Just like last year, I met with Sophia, who is an old colleague of mine. We met up for dinner at the East Coast Lagoon’s food hawker court, which I believe is called Jumbo. As she’s been to the Netherlands for a month in the past, she knows the spicy food that is served there (or rather, the lack thereof). As such, the food we had was perfect, especially the skewers!
A last adventure prior to heading home, was to try a durian. Matthias, who I met at DEFCON 2022, showed me a local food place which served delicious beef noodles near Geylang street. Close by, we tried a King durian. The smell of the fruit was pretty good and fresh, although I cannot really compare it to anything else. The taste was relatively neutral to me, neither good nor bad. The texture is a unique mixture of overcooked potatoes, jelly, and creme, with an even more unique taste. All in all, I recommend anyone to try a durian, but the smell and taste are perceived wildly different.
At the airport while waiting at the gate, I got myself a double chocolate cookie dough muffin, much like last year. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get another one coming year!