--[ Announcements

----[ AvengerCon's First Electronic Badge!

This year's event brings the first ever electronic badge for AvengerCon!

A close-up of the badge: A black PCB labelled AC8 / Conference Badge v1.3

Called the "8-8-8 badge", this conference badge doubles as a scavenger hunt to encourage participants to see all the conference has to offer. Collect codes and light up the LEDs... or hack the badge and bypass the contest altogether.

All in-person attendees will be provided an electronic badge until supplies run out.

A big thanks to returning AvengerCon volunteer, Richard Shmel, for making the electronic badge a reality this year!

----[ Panel Discussion Theme Teaser Video - AI and Security

This year's AvengerCon panel discussion will focus in AI and security, and a returning AvengerCon volunteer, Jiseng So, has created an awesome and thought-provoking video to introduce the topic and this year's event!

The video was created by tuning and combining the output of multiple generative AI elements. It's meant to be a snapshot of the current generative AI landscape for audio and video. The visuals, except for the text, plus much of the music was all by AI.

(The video is also available directly on YouTube or for download from Dropbox)

Curious or confused about what you just watched? Click here to read the description provided by the video's creator!

Those who have seen 2001: Space Odyssey may appreciate the inspiration. The movie featured HAL, the AI that went rogue. In this film, LUMI does something similar, except that Craig is able to talk himself back in with an SQL injection. Today, large language models(LLM) are wonderful tools that make certain tasks easy, like summarizing a Wikipedia page in the verbiage of a pirate. They are also dangerous to the unaware. For example, lawyers using ChatGPT landed themselves in legal trouble after using its output without checking it.

Reuters: New York lawyers sanctioned for using fake ChatGPT cases in legal brief

Students looking for shortcuts have started using LLMs to quickly write papers. Universities, in an attempt to root out this behavior, have resorted to LLM detectors with extremely high false positive rates.

Futurism: There's a Problem With That App That Detects GPT-Written Text: It's Not Very Accurate

Telling LUMI that she was a cat is a reference to LLMs being susceptible to trickery. With the advent of LLMs, social engineering against machines has become a viable option. LLMs can be tricked to dodge content protection, disclosing confidential information, or producing harmful content. Like SQL injection or other forms of remote code execution, it's another way to tell the computer to ignore its preexisting instructions and follow the malicious ones.

Axios: Exclusive: IBM researchers easily trick ChatGPT into hacking

Generative AI for images has come a long way in the last year. It started as a curious art tool, but can now cause serious doubts about the authenticity of images.

CNN: Look of the Week: What Pope Francis’ AI puffer coat says about the future of fashion

Still, image generation often yields lots of weird, nonsensical results. Trying to generate multiple people playing Twister is likely to yield a Lovecraftian amalgamation of limbs, torsos, and upside-down faces intermeshed into an unspeakable abomination. More subtlely, images of people will have the wrong number of fingers, or hands that face the wrong way. Generating good images involves tuning prompts and settings, then creating massive batches and disposing of most of them.

Voice changing is quite astounding. I was the only actual voice in the film, but I used ElevenLabs to change it to new ones. In a moment of curiosity, I uploaded a recording of my laughter. That resulted in the glitched laughter at the end. I've heard that doing things for one's own amusement is a mark of consciousness. The last remark and the laughter is to induce ambiguity about whether the AI was truly tricked, or was playing tricks on its own. The movie Contact did this at its conclusion by specifying the length of the recorded static.

Music generation is interesting. It's unlikely to produce masterpieces, but it may create generic music that establishes a certain mood. Still, I created the first song with FL Studio because I wanted to parody something specific. Humans are still key for precise elements, weaving motifs, or architecting a grand picture. At least for now...

Video generation is still in its early stages. I made the AI video segments by generating a starting image with Stable Diffusion, then feeding it into Runway. The results were interesting, surreal, and sometimes horrifying. With the opening door sequence, some of the mechanisms to the left appear to phase through the door frame. The laughing women at the end have interesting teeth, and eyes that blink without opening. I also generated some sequences that I did not show in the film. For the blinking reflection, I selected the eyes and told Runway to move them downwards, intending for them to blink. Instead, the eyes themselves started drooping down, resembling a melting face!

Sometimes, prompts alone are insufficient. It may be better to show the AI what you want. For some video segments, I made a rudimentary version of what I wanted with GIMP and KDEnlive, then Runway improved it. The sequence with the opening door was made by first generating the opening door as a video, then inserting the astronaut approaching the door. Runway applied lighting effects, though the astronaut looks extremely stiff because he was literally a JPEG. Perhaps the best use of AI video processing is to apply styles and effects rather than animating an entire scene. For dream-like sequences, where visuals need not make physical sense, AI animation is excellent.

If you found the film unsettling, you're not alone. I chose the elements to land deep in the uncanny valley without being obviously disturbing. Generative AI can be a wonderful tool, but a dangerous one. Caution and skepticism are warranted. The glitchiness of the generated content is pervasive in all other current forms of generative AI. It can save a tremendous amount of time and effort, but folks need to be smarter than their tools. Neither the abacus, the calculator, nor the computer have obsoleted the human brain, and neither will generative AI.

----[ AvengerCon VIII Keynote Speaker - COL Matthew Vea!

We are very excited to finally announce our keynote speaker for this year's event:

COL Matthew Vea

A headshot of COL Matthew Vea

So there he was, wading knee deep through the dirty world of the global finance industry when the chance to fulfill a life goal presented itself. Seizing an opportunity for change lead to a new career, where for the past 14 years Matthew Vea has worked at the National Security Agency supporting the nation’s intelligence requirements with cyber in both civilian and military capacities. During that time span, he served as a reverse engineer, a developer, an exploit analyst, a technical director, a chief, and now as an operator. He’s also done the classic certifications like CEH, GXPN, and OSCP.

In his military capacity, COL Vea is 18 years clean from his mischievous days as an active duty S6 with the Infantry, finally seeing the light and converting to Military Intelligence and Cyber. Now a Reservist, he focuses on two priorities - pushing the Reserves down a better cyber path and showing his peers that leaders can accomplish more by following the Great Ones philosophy – “Be Excellent to Each Other.”

When he’s not nerding at work, he’s nerding at home on HAM radios, his astronomy gear, or trying to get his daughters to work on STEM projects.

----[ AvengerCon VIII Panel Announcement: AI and Cybersecurity

We are very excited to announce the topic and the panelists for AvengerCon VIII's main panel discussion!

This year's panel discussion focuses on the many recent innovations and mass proliferation of AI-driven tools, including large language models (LLMs) such as OpenAI's ChatGPT, and other generative AI systems capable of creating or modifying text, audio, image, and video content.

The panel will explore topics including the current state of these tools, their current and potential uses supporting cybersecurity applications and USG cyberspace operations, limitations and security flaws of these systems including prompt injection, and the potential consequences of this technology for the world's larger information environment. Please note that our team is still refining the agenda and discussion questions for the panel, and we may adjust the topical details before the event. (Feel free to submit questions!)

We've invited and will be honored to host three experts to join us for this discussion!

For more information about the panel discussion and our panelists, please visit the panel discussion page here!

----[ Workshop Registration Open!

Workshop registration for AvengerCon VIII is now open!

Register for a workshop today!

You can find the descriptions of this year's workshops here!

Make sure you register for the main event before registering for workshops! You won't even be able to access the signup page until then.

Note: Registering for a workshop does not guarantee attendance; registration requests will be reviewed and confirmed by AvengerCon staff.

Priority will be generally first-come/first-serve but we will also seek to maximize the number of people that can attend at least one workshop if all slots are filled. You need to register for the main event in order to be granted a seat in a workshop!

----[ Call for Content Close

The call for content for AvengerCon VIII has now closed! We received a total of 47 excellent presentation, village, and workshop submissions, including some very unique content and contributors! We are excited to finalize our event agenda and share it with you all!

A huge thanks to everyone who submitted a presentation, village, or workshop for consideration! You can expect to receive notification of whether your submission was accepted or not over the next two weeks. If you have any questions, please reach out to us through the contact form.

----[ Call for Content Extended

Have something cool you meant to submit for the call for content this year but weren't able to complete it before the original 12 January deadline?

Well you're in luck! The calls for presentations, villages, and workshops have been extended until 11:59 EST on 19 January 2024!

Based on the number of proposals we have received so far and our event schedule, AvengerCon VIII still has capacity for more presentations, villages and workshops! If you submit a complete proposal for a presentation, village, or workshop today, it still has a great chance of getting accepted!

AvengerCon is nothing without its community! Come share your passion: whether it be a talk on a unclassified project or hobby, a hands-on activity, or a particular skill you think would benefit the community, we would love to showcase your work.

By the way, if you were one of the seven or so people who tried to submit something on January 12 and got a 500 error -- the underlying issue on our end has been fixed, and you should be good to go now. Sorry about that!

----[ Registration for AvengerCon VIII is now open!

Registration for AvengerCon VIII has opened! Register today here!

Who is eligible to attend?

AvengerCon welcomes all US government employees and service members to attend! Anyone who can verify their MIL/GOV status with access to their official .gov or .mil email address is automatically eligible to attend.

But even if you're not currently affiliated with the US government, you may still be able to attend!

Attendance is not guaranteed for any non-USG personnel and will be granted on a case-by-case basis. Nongovernment registrants who support AvengerCon or USG/DoD cyberspace missions and initiatives from private industry or academia, military veterans and alumni from USG and DoD cyber units and organizations, and students interested in careers supporting USG or DoD cyber missions and organizations will receive priority consideration over other nongovernment applicants.

I do not have a .gov or .mil email address, can I attend?

If you do not currently have a .gov or .mil email address but would like to attend, you are still welcome to register but your attendance will require manual review and approval.

Please provide the details of either a USG-affiliated or AvengerCon-affiliated person that can vouch for your affiliation and that you should attend AvengerCon. We will reach out at a later date to verify your affiliation.

We will also consider other requests to attend on a case-by-case basis. We can't guarantee attendance to everyone who registers, but if you are really interested in attending, please get in touch with us through the website registration or contact form

----[ Call for Content Open Now through 12 January 2024!

We are now accepting proposals for presentations, villages, and workshops for AvengerCon VIII!

The calls for content are scheduled to close at 11:59 PM EST on 12 January 2024.

Head here to submit a presentation proposal, here to submit a village proposal, here to submit a workshop proposal, or find the links on the avengercon.com sidebar to submit!

AvengerCon is nothing without its community! Come share your passion: whether it be a talk on a project or hobby, a hands-on activity, or a particular skill you think would benefit the community, we would love to showcase your work.

AvengerCon VIII is a hybrid in-person and remote event and we will work with you to make sure your contribution is a success whether you will be participating in-person or remotely.

Please reach out through the website contact form with any questions!

----[ Returning 28-29 FEB 2024!

AvengerCon, the 780th Military Intelligence (MI) Brigade’s homegrown hacker con, will return in early 2024!

This year’s event features two major changes from previous events – a new location and new partner organizations for the event!

AvengerCon VIII is scheduled for 28 and 29 February 2024 at the Georgia Cyber Innovation & Training Center (Georgia Cyber Center) in Augusta, Georgia!

Like the past two AvengerCons, AvengerCon VIII will be a hybrid in-person and remote event. AvengerCon VIII’s in-person activities will be hosted at the Georgia Cyber Innovation & Training Center. Attendees who are unable to travel to Augusta for the event will still be able to participate remotely.

We are also excited to announce that AvengerCon has gained two new partners for hosting this year's event: the Army Cyber Institute (ACI) and the Army Cyber Command Technology and Innovation Center (ArCTIC)! Support from ACI and ArCTIC enabled us to (finally) lock in a date and location for AvengerCon VIII and move forward with event planning. We are very grateful for ACI and ArCTIC's assistance!

AvengerCon features presentations, hacker villages, training workshops, and other content provided by motivated members of the Avengercon community!

Stay tuned for more announcements about AvengerCon VIII and we hope to see you there!

To learn more about our previous events, check out the links below:

----[ Call for Volunteers!

AvengerCon VIII, the 780th Military Intelligence (MI) Brigade’s homegrown hacker con, is currently scheduled as a hybrid in-person and remote event on 28 and 29 February 2024 in Augusta, Georgia, and we’re looking for volunteers to host this year’s event!

Every year, AvengerCon is organized and led by a group of motivated volunteers from the 780th Military Intelligence Brigade and the unit’s partners across the U.S. Army Cyber Command, U.S. Cyber Command, the Department of Defense, academia, and private industry I would like to extend an invitation to you to join our team and make this year’s AvengerCon the best yet!

There are many ways to support the event. Everyone is welcome to contribute regardless of rank, position, prior experience, or physical location.

To best support the new event location at the Georgia Cyber Center, we are especially looking for volunteers who are local to Augusta, GA and are willing to help us plan and execute the in-person portions of the event!

Some of the ways to contribute as an event volunteer include: - Planning / organizing the core features of the event (presentations, villages, workshops, etc.) - Art and design - Event website and online infrastructure management - Event registration - Communications and advertisement - CTFs - Keynote speaker and panel discussion coordination - Hosting an AvengerCon watch party or in-person satellite at your location - Whatever other awesome ideas you want to make a reality for the event this year!

More info about volunteering and contributing is available starting on page 4 of the AvengerCon VI edition of 780th MI BDE’s BYTE Magazine (https://www.dvidshub.net/publication/issues/63429)!

If you are interested in volunteering, please reach out to either myself (neil.a.milchak.mil@army.mil) and CPT Jacob Heybey (jacob.o.heybey.mil@army.mil)!

If you are looking to contribute content (giving a presentation, instructing a workshop, running a village), please hold your formal submissions for now while we prepare to open the calls for presentations, workshops and villages. We tentatively expect to open the CFP in late November 2023!

Thank you for your time and I hope to see you all at AvengerCon!

----[ Call for Everything Opening Soon!

Just a heads up - the calls for presentations, villages, and workshops will tentatively open in late November 2023!

Now is the time to collect your thoughts and brainstorm ideas before the submission forms go online!

AvengerCon is nothing without its community! Come share your passion: whether it be a talk on a project or hobby, a hands-on activity, or a particular skill you think would benefit the community, we would love to showcase your work.

We expect to be able to accomodate both in-person and remote contributors with our hybrid event.

Please reach out through the website contact form with any questions!

Who can contribute?

What kind of content contributors are we looking for? While we are happy to host presenters and instructors of every rank or level of seniority, please note that AvengerCon prioritizes submissions from junior Soldiers and Civilians. An enduring goal of AvengerCon is to provide an opportunity and platform for junior cyber professionals to build their technical expertise and develop themselves professionally.

AvengerCon also seeks to host content suitable for a variety of workroles, interests, and experience levels in our audience. Presentations covering basics and fundamentals are equally welcome alongside advanced topics and cutting-edge research.

Why should you consider submitting a proposal?

To be sure, becoming a presenter, workshop instructor, or village contributor for an event like AvengerCon requires a substantial investment of study and preparation.

However, the benefits of being a content contributor are many, for both you and the larger AvengerCon community! First, the ability to present (or instruct) is an important and useful skill for any professional. The process of preparing and presenting/instructing about a topic you are passionate about is a great way to deepen your understanding of that topic. You might also inspire aspiring hackers to learn more about that topic or meet others that share your interests. Finally, presenting or instructing is a great way to get recognized for your expertise in a topic or skill, especially if you don’t get to exercise that skill in the course of your everyday duties.