An Introduction to Cybersecurity Call for Papers

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Author: Henry Dalziel

In this post, we take a look at what is meant by “Call For Papers”, commonly abbreviated to “CFP”, how they are typically handled, and what conference organizers expect from them. The intention of this resource is to be a definitive resource for event managers, marketing communications professionals or even InfoSec speakers are able to use and learn from.

What Are Call For Papers?

We post a ton of content on Cybersecurity Conferences, Events and Seminars so for this resource when we refer to “Call For Papers” I’m referring to them in an InfoSec capacity.

Three Second Answer: Call For Papers is a term used by conference organizers (or academics) to solicit speaking opportunities that can be presented at their event.

So, you submit your idea for a presentation and the conference organizer will decide whether they’d like for you to present.

It’s worth just reminding again that Call For Papers, “CFP” refers to a myriad of solicitations to different media such as journals, books, papers, and a bunch more – but as stated, we will focus squarely on what CFP’s mean within Cybersecurity.

What’s The Point?

You might be asking what’s the point of submitting research and suggestions for security events. Well, the benefits are many.

These include:

  • Getting your research and thought leadership out there;
  • Associating your name with the security niche you’re in;
  • Fantastic promotion for your company too!

When you walk off the stage the audience will know who you are and what you do, resulting in making networking a breeze since you’ll discover that delegates will introduce themselves to you as ease.

In summary, speaking and presenting at Cybersecurity Conferences is a brilliant way to get business both from a personal level and corporate-level as well.

How Do I Find Call For Papers?

We can help!

We have a dedicated service whereby we source and manage all your CFP Speaking Opportunities; all entirely dependent on your niche and needs.

Call For Paper Opportunities

If you are seeking CFP opportunities or you’ve been tasked with trying to find speaking opportunities here are some places you might find them:

What Are “Call For Abstracts?”

“Call For Abstracts” is a much less-used term for essentially the same thing as a CFP.

Typically, CFP’s are requested in an abstract format that is submitted via a Word Document or a PDF Format.

A cybersecurity abstract when submitted as a Call For Papers (CFP) is typically between 150- to 250-words. I’d suggest that clearly expresses your central (InfoSec-related) thesis, research, or solution and summarize it with specific key points.

The Thirteen Step Process To Successfully Submitting Call For Papers

Here’s a basic thirteen-step outline that you should follow when applying for Cybersecurity Call For Papers.

Your mileage will vary a lot when it comes to submitting InfoSec CFP’s but in essence, you need to present concise information relating to the:

  • “Why”
  • And, the “How”

In other words, Why is it a problem, and How can it be fixed.

Assuming that you’ve discovered a bunch of CFP’s to apply for and you’re also aware of the deadlines, here’s how I would recommend you tackle your CFP submissions.

Step 1Do Your Research And Find Cybersecurity CFP’s
Step 2Find Out The CFP Requirements
Step 3Create A Catchy Title
Step 4Submit The (Correct) Requested Abstract Type
Step 5Consider Your Readers & Audience
Step 6Explain The Importance Of Your Research
Step 7Outline Your Solution (with Methods)
Step 8Avoid Copy-Pasting At All Costs!
Step 9Keep It Well-Structured And Logical
Step 10Include Technical And Non-Technical Key Phrases And Words
Step 11Sum It Up, Keep It Simple
Step 12Editing And Proofreading
Step 13Keep Pressuring!

Step 1. Do Your Research And Find Cybersecurity CFP’s

Key Takeaway: Do Your Research And Find Cybersecurity CFP’s

This is a time-consuming piece.

Either do-it-yourself, or let us help you out! We’re friendly with literally hundreds of Cybersecurity Conference organizers and we collate all requests for InfoSec Speakers that we share with our clients, or – we submit CFP’s on their behalf.

When doing your research in finding CFP’s remember that in Cybersecurity there, at a minimum eight types of InfoSec Conference.

  • InfoSec/Cybersecurity Unconference (BSides, DEF CON Groups, Meetups)
  • Typical “Vendor-Related” Cybersecurity Conference (Black Hat, RSA)
  • Non-Vendor “Hacker Conference” (DEF CON, Toorcon, CCC, HOPE, 8.8)
  • Symposium (IEEE, ISACA)
  • Seminar (Government-related, US or UK);
  • Colloquium (Academic Events)
  • Workshop (Lockpicking Villages, Capture The Flags)
  • Roundtable Or Vendor CXO-Level Commerical Events (FutureCon, Cyber Security Summit)

Each of these types of conferences have a different style and expectation. In other words, what happens at DEF CON usually stays at DEF CON – remembering that it is in Las Vegas after all!

Assuming that you’ve got a list of CFP’s, then let’s move on!

Step 2. Find Out The CFP Requirements

Key Takeaway: Don’t Mess Up Simple Instructions

Every InfoSec Conference event is different and will have a different CFP Submission process.

Most submissions are either accepted via email, an online submission webform, or a third-party platform.

The requested media format of your talk and presentation is vital.

Formats typically are requested in either a PDF or Word Document.

Don’t mess this bit up because the conference (organizers) committee might be slightly over-zealous and cancel any CFP’s that aren’t submitted in their requested format. Don’t give them a reason to ignore you out of hand.

Step 3. Create A Catchy Title

Key Takeaway: The Title Is Perhaps The Most Important Item

Consider some of these amazing DEF CON Talks.

There are real titles that are considering by many as being some of the best DEF CON talks ever given.

  • How TOR Users Got Caught
  • That Awesome Time I Was Sued For Two Billion Dollars
  • Hack All The Things! 20 Devices in 45 minutes
  • Pwned By The owner What happens When You Steal A Hacker’s Computer
  • How My Botnet Purchased Millions Of Dollars In Cars And Defeated The Russian Hackers
  • Stealing Profits from Spammers or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Spam
  • Steal Everything, Kill Everyone, Cause Total Financial Ruin!

This doesn’t really need much explanation to suffice to say that you need to make the title intriguing and evoke curiosity.

Step 4. Submit The (Correct) Requested Abstract Type

Key Takeaway: Make It Engaging, Informative – AND Interesting!

Writing the abstract can be a little tricky, and out of all the steps, this is likely the most important step when submitting CFP’s.

Think of it a bit like that back of a book cover, or a movie trailer. You want to give away teasers of what to expect and get the reader to want to know more.

It’s vital that you keep the abstract interesting and thankfully this shouldn’t be considered as being too difficult in Cybersecurity. Think about Cybercrime, Cyber warfare, Digital Forensics, Social Engineering, SCADA, etc. there’s a ton of really interesting content so the abstract piece should almost write itself.

Obviously, it depends on the conference you’re applying for. , there is so much fascinating and often nefarious activities info out there. I use the abstract part of talk abstract literally: I try not to include too many specific details to give me some leeway to let the talk take me where it wants to go later when I build it. You can’t be too amorphous to the extent where you’re not saying anything, otherwise, the organizers won’t pick it, but you can talk in broader themes than you would otherwise.

Also, keep it interesting. As I said, this will probably be in the talk program, and if the conference you’re presenting at has multiple tracks, you’ll want to write something interesting enough to pull people in and choose your talk.

Step 5. Consider Your Readers & Audience

Key Takeaway: If They Are Hackers, Then Talk To Them Like A Nerd

Your audience is defined as the group of people, likely security professionals, that you intend for your content to be listened and watched by either virtually or physically.

It’s therefore obviously vital that you consider your audience when writing your abstract and CFP proposal.

Regardless to say, but of course the more technical the event then the more you can likely use specific niche-related jargon, for example using networking protocols when discussing network breaches.

Step 6. Explain The Importance Of Your Research

Key Takeaway: State Why Your Proposal Is Important

Discovering a zero-day and presenting it at DEF CON would certainly make headlines around the world.

The “Call For Papers Committee”, i.e. the group that reviews all submitted CFP’s will want speakers that address serious issues that are affecting the community at large.

Ideally, your research and proposal will outline the seriousness of the “problem”, or perhaps that will be inherently known.

In any event, stress the danger or threat and make that apparent in your CFP.

Step 7. Outline Your Solution (with Methods)

Key Takeaway: Clear Solutions And Methods Would Be Ideal

This is self-explanatory but a good CFP outline would also include ways that the problem that you’ve rectified could be resolved and “patched”,

Having a “how-to” in your presentation would certainly pique the interest of the papers review committee.

Step 8. Avoid Copy-Pasting At All Costs!

Key Takeaway: Don’t Be Lazy. Check Against Duplications

It’s worth mentioning that the committee’s reviewing the Call For Papers will prefer that the content being delivered is fresh and unique to their security conference or event.

Most (major) cybersecurity conferences have a policy whereby you agree not to re-deliver your presentation or talk for a period of time, usually a month.

Step 9. Keep It Well-Structured And Logical

Key Takeaway: Organizing Presentations Read And Covert Better

Don’t let the review committee have any reason to doubt your CFP proposal because they don’t understand how it flows.

Keep all the sections nice and organized that follow into one another.

Of course, have a contents section certainly helps and I’ve seen a lot of Call For Papers have color-coded sections to further enhance the divisions of chapters and subject matter.

Step 10. Include Technical And Non-Technical Key Phrases And Words

Key Takeaway: Remember To Include A Glossary For Overtly Technical Terms

If you’re in a room packed full of SCADA professionals all discussing PLC’s then likely your audience will completely understand the technical terms, but as we stated in Step 4, you must consider your audience.

It’s never a bad idea just to clarify (at the beginning of your CFP) what you mean by certain terms, especially with regards to abbreviations.

Step 11. Sum It Up, Keep It Simple

Key Takeaway: Have A Memorable Ending

The beginning is just as important as the end.

Maybe give a statistic that will outline the real cost of not-patching or the consequence of not solving the problem that you’re outlining.

This sections needs to be short and sweet.

Step 12. Editing And Proofreading

Key Takeaway: Get A Professional Copywriter To Take A Look

Copywriting sells.

The more emotive your language the better.

A good idea is to head over to UpWork or Freelancer and hire a Copywriter, you’ll have to pay between USD $50 – $100 or so but it will be worth it in the long-run. Even just to have the abstract professional edited can – and will – make all the difference.

Step 13. Keep Pressuring!

Key Takeaway: Don’t Take No For An Answer Until The Say No

Kinda obvious to say but considering how much work you’ve done at this stage don’t let the committee just sit on your CFP.

Many CFP Committee’s have a review stage whereby they might contact you asking for clarification and allow you the opportunity to re-submit.

If you don’t hear back from them within a timely fashion make sure to politely chase them up.

Summary

Go for it!

The benefits of becoming a Cybersecurity Conference Speaker are numerous.

Getting your research out there and labelling yourself as an expert – or specialist- within your niche had a tandem benefit of enhancing your profile whilst also promoting your brand, be it your own or your employers.

We Can Help With All Your Cybersecurity CFP Submissions

Our service, called “InfoSec Event Navigator”, helps our clients search and apply for CFP’s.

We save you hours of work by collating all the CFP’s within the Cybersecurity niche and we organize them in an easy format for you to apply to.

We also have a premier service whereby we do it for you!

If you’re interested get in contact with us through the site or visit our InfoSec Event Navigator page.

Good luck with your endeavorers!