TROOPERS | Interview with Niki Vonderwell

InfoSec Conference Spotlight Series

We shine a spotlight on selected Cyber Security Conferences, event categories,
niches, talk to founders and generally learn more about security events

First Published: , by Henry Dalziel
(updated typically every three - six months)

TROOPERS is one of the premier Cybersecurity Conferences taking place in Germany. TROOPERS, which is actually written with the year after is so the next one is TROOPERS21 is a hands-on, practitioner-led, high-value event, and certainly one of the best InfoSec events in the DACH region

As was the case for most IT Security conferences in 2020, TROOPERS20 was cancelled due to Coronavirus.

I’m a huge fan of TROOPERS and we’ve always made a point of including it in our directory so we sincerely hope to see them back in action at TROOPERS21. TROOPERS is equally well-known for its’ IT Security training sessions and many attend just for that.

The TROOPERS conference itself takes place in Heidelberg, Germany, which is a university town in the German state of Baden-Württemberg. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting it and it is a beautiful town, packed full of history.

Event Details

March 16th, 2020
This Event is Now Over
Hacker Conference and Offensive Security (Malware)

Review of the event within our directory:

This event is hugely popular. TROOPERS is a popular conference which always attracts some fantastic speakers. Cybersecurity Professionals and hackers throughout Europe are aware of this event and most security websites will include this event as one of the must-attend conferences that you shouldn’t miss. We’ve listed this event as one of our Top Ten events to attend since 2014 and, frankly, the organizers always put on a great show. If you’re living in Germany and working in Information Security then we’d absolutely recommend this event. We list out a bunch of other reasons why you ought to be attending this event in our “Best InfoSec Events of the Year.

The Interview

This post forms part of our “Conference Spotlight” series whereby we interview the founder (or representative) of InfoSec events we know and love.

In this post we talk to Niki Vonderwell who was the Conference Manager for the TROOPERS Security Workshops and asked her a bunch of questions regarding how TROOPERS came to be and what’s next for the conference.

Here are the questions we asked with Niki’s answers.

What prompted you to start TROOPERS?

We had some ideas in mind when we first started. We wanted to set up something that enabled people to learn (knowledge sharing) and have fun while doing so. TROOPERS was also about interaction and bringing people together that would not otherwise meet. Then, hopefully, they would walk away with some new ideas and perspectives. Ideas that would “Make the World a Safer Place.”

Being in a place where we can look back over the years we can honestly say that these ideas have really built the foundation of TROOPERS, and made it what it is today.

Why is the conference called TROOPERS? (Which is a great name by the way!)

We came up with the name as sort of a “TROOPERS in the fight against bugs”. It has evolved a bit more to also mean “family”, “quality”, “InfoSec”, and “#TheBestYearEver.

Aside from Heidelberg being a very beautiful place why does the conference take place there?

Heidelberg is home. It is where we work, do groundbreaking research, and play. Our roots are here, and so it makes sense to bring everyone here to enjoy a week of ideas, research, and family.

If you want to get a better overview of TROOPERS and why we have kept the conference here for the last 8 years check out our 10 year anniversary video:

What criteria do you look for when selecting speakers? Do you allow any vendor-related presentations or is TROOPERS strictly to demonstrate security concepts and flaws?

Hands-down, TROOPERS has the best speakers in the world gracing our stage year after year!

When we are selecting speakers we want to not only look at the research and methodology, but we want to know that after the talk is over the attendees have really taken something from that talk that they can apply to their own work/research/mantras.

As said before, knowledge sharing is a core value of the conference, and it is the speakers and trainers who really drive this through their presentations and workshops.

This spirit also means no vendor pitches, as we want to keep the high-end quality and content sharing as top priorities. To our Speakers, thank you for everything! For our future TROOPERS Speakers, see you soon! ;-).

How would you like to see TROOPERS evolve over time?

We’ve been lucky to have celebrated 10 years of TROOPERS this past March, and we think we have found a great balance of bringing together people from all over the IT Security spectrum.

We typically have a ratio of around 1 speaker for every 4 attendees, which really allows for knowledge sharing and really feeling like part of the TROOPERS family.

Our internal slogan is “Best Year Ever” where we are constantly pushing to make the current year even better than the last. This gives us a lot of room to try new things and bring in new people and research.

Is there any cross-over with the folks over at CCC (Chaos Communication Congress)? Do you know of each other?

We do know each other! We are lucky to have several of our Crew attending, speaking, and even helping to organize CCC.

Lastly, what’s the best way for people to follow you and TROOPERS? Do you have a Twitter handle you’d like to share here?

We are pretty active on Twitter!

You can follow us @WeAreTROOPERS. We also share our talk videos on our Youtube channel:

In Summary

TROOPERS is one of the best Cybersecurity conferences taking place in the DACH region with a deep well-respected community of InfoSec professionals. They typically have the event in March so if you’re in Europe, free and work within IT Security then yes, I absolutely recommend you attend this event! We wish the team the best of luck in 2021.