TechCamp Namibia 2018

TechCamp 2018

TechCamp Namibia is a working workshop sponsored and organized by the United States State Department under the Bureau of International Information Programs focusing on cybersecurity and cybercrimes issues where participants are expected to contribute in the discussions and creating necessary resolutions and blueprints for further works. The workshop was divided into five parallel tracks namely Citizen Protection, Policy Issues, Law Enforcement Issues, Industry Growth and Cybersecurity Education. Each track was assisted by two experts, from International and Regional countries. The theme for this TechCamp is “Cybersecurity for everyone”.

Namibia University of Science and Technology is the highest ranked university in Namibia and also has cyber security degrees at bachelors and masters level. They hosted this TechCamp supported by the US Embassy in Namibia and the US State Department. The program brought together participants from across Africa and trainers from all over the world.

Summary of TechCamp Namibia:

Day 1:

There were welcome remarks from the Chief of Staff at the US /Namibia Embassy. The host from Namibia University of Science & Technology (NUST), introduced our working area/tasks they were divided into 4 areas:

  1. Policy
  2. Education
  3. Law enforcement
  4. Citizen Protection
  5. Industry/Private Sector

 

The US State Department highlighted that there would be Possible Funding for solutions suggested during the TechCamp and there would also be opportunity to connect with experts in cybersecurity

 

I joined the Education group on Day One

Our main talking points were about cybersecurity within the education Sector. It was a multi participant led discussion on the following topics:

  1. What’s Going on in cybersecurity
  2. Security Awareness
    1. Laws in security
  3. Tools for Cyber Awareness
  4. Who is Responsible for the Data?
    1. Privacy of data In the Cloud
  5. How do we protect our networks?
  6. Educational Portal
  7. How to protect education networks
  8. How do we educate the people in terms of cybersecurity?

 

Several initiative where discussed such as the Google Safe and the Namibia Child Online Safety Project, which was later proposed that HIT might want to partner with UNICEF in the project. I am in the process of contacting relevant authorities on the matter.

Day 2:

Dr Anika Peters, the Dean of the School of Computing gave an address on the local overview of Cybersecurity in Namibia and how the gestation period for policy framework took 10 years. This led to the delay in the Cybersecurity law being approved.

I attended the Threat Intelligence Session.

The trainer John Haley, Cybersecurity Director from Capitol One Bank in the USA, advocated for applying a proactive approach to Cyber Defence.

 

Key points from the Threat Intelligence Session:

Alert Development – Get Data and create alerts and threat hunting

 

Threat Hunting – proactively collecting Data from many sources

  1. Every endpoint
  2. Every network flow
  3. Every persons computer
  4. Data Lakes

 

Correlation of data from multiple data sources is key to paint a picture of who what where, how and who. Cyber Intelligence is key to fuel threat detection to fuel Tactics Techniques and Procedures, Campaigns and Actors.

Tools for collecting data

  • Snowflake threat intelligence
  • Log Aggregation Tools – Splunk , Elastic Search
  • Purple Ring
  • Variato
  • DTex
  • Infoblocks
  • MISP
  • ISEC

 

 

Cyber Intelligence Sources

  • Internet Storm Center – SANS
  • Dark Reading –
  • Black Hills InfoSec

 

Duties of the Center for Machine Learning within Capitol One

  • Analyse Data for InfoSec
  • Automation of Cyber Operations

 

Day 3:

We had to collectively come up with specific challenges to tackle as part of the Threat Intelligence Team. We came up with the following objectives and solutions.

Objectives

  1. Create Threat Intelligence team for information sharing and gathering, and threat hunting.
    1. Industry Level
    2. National Level
    3. Regional Level – SADC
  2. Implementation of various strategies of Information Gathering
    1. Creating public vulnerability database
    2. Honeypots
    3. Surveys
    4. Stakeholders reporting incidents
  3. Information Sharing
    1. Creation industry/ sector information domes
    2. Setup of cross platform information sharing infrastructure

Projects

  1. Industry specific baseline survey on Cybersecurity and threat management
  2. Presentation of Findings and Recommendations – Proposal for creation of sector certs to stakeholders.
  3. Establishment of MOUs and standard operational procedures to share information.
  4. Creation of Industry wide CIRT
  5. Implementation of strategies from information gathering
    1. Threat Intelligence Portal
    2. Creating public vulnerability database
    3. Honeypots
    4. Surveys
    5. Stakeholders reporting incidents
  6. Implementation Continuous Programs
    1. Workshops
    2. Awareness
    3. Cyber Security Competitions
    4. Workshops
  7. Create a Cyber Security Framework and Standards

I was elected to present our solution to the gathering on behalf of the threat intelligence team.

Day 4:

Two representatives from the threat intelligence team presented the solutions we had proposed to the Namibian Parliament.

PyCon Namibia 2018

I had the privilege to attend Pycon Namibia 2018. My travel was sponsored by a grant from the Django Society UK, of which i am very grateful.

Python Zimbabwe Team, Kuda (left), Anna (center) & Myself Tendai ( right)

PyCon is a conference for the Python programming community. Previously i had only attended 2 previous Pycons, both in zimbabwe the first in 2016 as a speaker and then the follow-up in 2017 as both speaker and organiser.

 

 

 

Day 1

The first lesson i learnt is never book a flight on the first day of the conference. We had an Air Namibia flight delay of 2 hours causing us to arrive around lunch on day 1.

I managed to catch the one of the best presentations of the conference by Daniele Procida, he had a practical walkthrough of how to organise and structure a budget and planning for a PyCon. It was a very informative talk which shall be of great assistance in or future Pycons that we will host.

After Daniele then came the lighting talks, these are always fun filled and we saw a large number of people wishing to share their findings and ideas.

Day 2

Anna Makarudze & Kudakwashe Siziva presented on the duo combination of Django & Angularjs (Djangular) – their technical workshop was almost hampered by internet connectivity problems. Which is a common problem at technical conferences and a point noted to create a lan server for speakers to pre-install relevant documents/ software and have participants pull/download from a local repository to circumvent internet issues.

I went on to present my workshop on Data Analysis with Jupiter, i have used Anaconda extensively in my lectures/labs/tutorials and it was a joy being able to show people how the could automate mundane day to day data analytics. Most felt they would continue exploration of data science after the workshop.

One of the highlights of the entire conference was a young boy Berhane Wheeler who came in with his mom in tow to cheer him as he gave  workshop on how to build a guessing game in python. He is an inspiration to many, at barely 13 years old he already knows programming. A feat that attests to the usability and versatility of Python as a language.

Day 2 ended with the usual lighting talks.

Day 3

Marlene Mhangami presented on the growth of the Python Community in Africa, as well as the hope for a pan-African PyCon. After came Ngatatue Mate who serenaded everyone with Python in Music, my biggest take away was for introductory courses to Python i feel one of the music problems would be an ideal project for beginners to quickly make something that is tangible and retain interest in the language, i feel it is something that will become a part of our tutorials.

After that i attended the talk on Virtual Reality by Candy Tricia Khohliwe from Bostwana, it was her first python talk and she is a Mozilla Volunteer, it was great seeing that Python is growing within the region. A Whatsapp group was created with includes Pythonistas from Nigeria, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and it mainly assists in helping foster Python growth on the sub-continent and the members will try to assist in creating new communities.

I then proceeded to present my Talk, moderated by Dr Vince, i gave a summary of activities we conduct at Harare Institute of Technology using Python,  as well as the growth in adoption of the language with various universities in Zimbabwe.

Over the past year after, Pycon Zimbabwe 2016, we introduced a dedicated Python course, and assisted in the founding of Zimbopy, where i assist as a University Coordinator, identifying students to undergo mentoring and other Zimbopy activities. After PyCon Zimbabwe 2017, i founded the HIT Python Developers club, together with Zimbopy we carried out the first workshop with Florian from Sandtable & his friend Roman.

Lighting Talks Final Day

The lighting talks on the final day were brilliant, one of the takeaways was Dr Vince’s talk on Latex, it was a brief introduction teaching how to use latex to have properly formatted documents. Anna

 

 

 

My experience from Pycon Namibia has helped me appreciate what a properly coordinated conference looks like,  and our hope is that as Pycon Zimbabwe we will be able to reach the levels of success that Namibia has attained.

My biggest take away from the conference was an urgent need to build something of our own. My line of thought goes something like this; We are expanding our footprint and creating wealth of knowledge and teaching people how to program. I feel as African Pythonistas we need to create flagship products, i.e our own open-source projects. So my aim is to create a flagship open source project from Python Zimbabwe, to be exhibited at PyCon Zimbabwe 2019. Currently submissions are open for ideas.

I intend to go to to one of the upcoming West African Conferences in 2019/2020.

My humble thanks to everybody at the Django Society UK for sponsoring my trip. And thanks to the organisers and sponsors of PyCon Namibia.