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2018 DakotaCon brings in new speakers, training sessions

March 21, 2018

New speakers and training sessions are being featured at the 2018 DakotaCon.

The eighth annual security event is taking place March 23-25, at the Dakota Prairie Playhouse, and the Dakota State University campus. The agenda includes 12 guest speakers on Friday, the annual North Central Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (CCDC) on Friday and Saturday, and training sessions for cybersecurity practitioners on Saturday and Sunday.

One of those speakers is new to DakotaCon, Bob Kalka, who is vice president of the IBM Security Business Unit. He oversees IBM's global technical professionals, strategic client initiatives and enablement programs. For the past two decades he has been intimately involved with developing IBM's overall strategy for its comprehensive security-related investments.

“Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) are radically changing cybersecurity,” Kalka said, so will present a talk titled “How Cognitive and AI are Changing Cyber,” at noon on Friday at the Playhouse. Other speakers will address detecting and remediating threats, using open source solutions with malware activity, and talks on blockchain, graylog, and Python code. All of Friday’s talks are free and open to the public.

Friday is also the first day of CCDC. Twelve collegiate student teams from across the region (North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa and Montana) will test their cybersecurity knowledge by building, protecting, and maintaining a realistic network and operations environment. The winning team will advance to the national competition in San Antonio, Texas later this spring.

This year, organizers from Dakota State University have expanded the training offerings to include four separate courses, said Dr. Kyle Cronin, assistant professor of information assurance at DSU.

“We’re really excited to have such a variety to offer this year,” he said. These courses include:

  • Security: For Hackers and Developers -- a course offering tools and techniques for finding bugs in real-world software;
  • OpenSOC -- a defense simulation that trains practitioners to deal with real-world situations;
  • Red Team Tactics for Red and Blue – covers several methods to simulate attacks and how best to detect and respond to them;
  • Suricata – teaching methods and techniques for writing network signatures to detect threats.

These training sessions will be offered at locations on the DSU campus, beginning on the afternoon of March 24 and continuing on March 25. Registration information, and other details about DakotaCon, are available at

Sponsors for the 2018 DakotaCon include High Point Networks, SDN Communications, Capital Services, Black Hills Information Security, and PaloAlto Networks.