Updates after lockdown and plans for Thailand

6 min readJul 1, 2020
A view of Valletta and Manoel Island from Ta’ Xbiex, Malta

Luigi back to the blog after over half an year of silence, most spent in Malta.

Let’s be direct, conferences are meant for traveling, social interactions and content.

And that’s the exact order: they are a great way for visiting new places and having a break from the daily job, and socializing is essential for building connections and, in some cultures, even finalizing a deal.

Content is something that doesn’t have physical barriers and can be replicated anywhere with a video and the slides.

Videos are perfect for sharing content, in fact uploading a video on YouTube or having a video call at an online conference is technically same, and the goal is accomplished in the same way just as an in-person event.

It’s a fantastic opportunity for both speakers and participants at no cost.

But there is no way to replicate the other most important points previously mentioned, just like watching a travel vlog doesn’t return any of the original sensations, and video calls can’t compare to face-to-face meetings.

Therefore online and in-person conferences are both needed and complementary.

And there will never, ever, be a virtual REVULN conference because the content has never been the only goal, not even the first of the previous list.

Azure Window in Gozo was a main attactions of Malta, now gone

Back to the news, the REVULN conference in Malta planned for one week ago (25–26 June) has been postponed to mid October.

Malta is a small island and life seems quite back to normal, the borders with the other European countries are slowly reopening and even the flights from few non-EU countries like Thailand may be allowed from today.

The conference in Manila planned in April has been postponed to December, the speakers have already been selected before the lockdowns worldwide:

Frankie LI, Michael Artemio Go REBULTAN, Masakazu TAKASU, Pichaya MORIMOTO, Digit OKTAVIANTO, Wahyu NURYANTO, Satria PRADANA, Sanoop THOMAS, Takayuki TERASHIMA, Narayan KOIRALA, Ammar Hussain JAFFRI, Sufian ANSAR, Ahmad Ashraff AHMAD, Hanafie NURUDDIN.

Obviously these speakers will be recontacted and reconfirmed some weeks before the event because, being all from foreign countries, there will probably be different restrictions and requirements at immigration.

The main problems are currently related to the international attendees for various reasons:

  • will the international airports open and when?
  • what are the requirements for people traveling from country X to Y?
  • what if a country gets blacklisted just few days before the event?
  • what if the speaker gets his flight or entry denied?
  • is quarantine necessary on arrival in any case?
  • what happens if someone is tested positive on arrival?

The last two doubts are interesting because the international speakers of our conferences are provided with free accommodation offered by us.

That benefit is meant for allowing them to hold their presentation, not for staying in quarantine.

The point about the mandatory quarantine for everybody, for people tested negative too, is also important because it’s not possible to hold a presentation if you have to stay isolated 14 days.

The backup option is running the presentation remotely from the room of the same hotel where the conference is taking place but… seriously, no thanks.

Tal Pieta’ in Malta

No problems instead for local speakers and guests.

We contacted the hotels of the upcoming conferences and the main restriction is on the number of allowed concurrent participants in the meeting room since it will be half. This is still acceptable because the events are planned to be “walk-in”, if a session is temporary full there will be space outside the room for waiting and doing some networking with the other attendees.

Additionally the agenda already includes a 15 minutes break after each session, an idea adopted for the event of last December, so no problems for letting fresh air to circulate in the room, performing sanitization and any other measure done by the hotel during these breaks.

These details give an idea of what it may be the plan B for the worst case scenario: opting for local speakers only.

It may be the solution for the conference in Bangkok this September if the borders will remain closed or the requirements and limitations will be too heavy for running a relaxing international event.

Just plans on plans on plans that are regularly disrupted few months or even weeks later due to the current unpredictable situation. It’s just like having an equation where most of the variables are unknown and additional variables are added after the plan is already in place. There is no long-term plan.

Fungus rock in San Lawrenz, Gozo (Malta)

Back to Thailand that, like Malta, is one of the countries that better reacted to the pandemic.

Some rumors claim that the (unrestricted) international flights may resume in late September, but some airlines have flights from European airports starting from 25 October. One of these airlines is Thai Airways that, in the meantime, went bankrupt.

The current situation related to international flights today 1st July is:

If this scenario will remain in place till September there are only two options available:

  • postponing, no idea of when due to the unpredictable future
  • only local speakers and participants, which means that even I can’t be physically there and I should rely on the hotel staff and the local host chosen for the event (the person who introduces the speakers and handles the Q&A sessions)

Despite all these uncertainties the various plans allow to work better on the framework, and I’m happy that some aspects can still work even on the worst case scenarios.

After all the conferences are self-financed and free so there is no loss in postponing them, but the goal is trying to adapt to the new normal instead of waiting the “old normal” back later this year, next year or the next decade.

Obviously I’m also open to any comments and feedbacks.

Sun glitter from the ferry boat from Malta to Gozo

On a different topic, I plan to hold a presentation at the conference in Malta and maybe at some online events.

Still doubts about the possibility of recording videos of the presentations (after approval of the speakers in any case) since there are both pros and cons, but honestly the advantages are quite insignificant for this specific framework of conference.

There is also another idea in plan and I hope it will be announced for the upcoming conference in Thailand.

I will keep my network posted with any update on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/aluigi

Just a remainder about the available open Call for Papers if someone would like to submit a presentation:

REVULN 20x3 — Bangkok (Thailand)
Event: September 9–10
Topic: Social media monitoring and online censorship evasion
Deadline: July 31
CFP: https://revuln.com/20x3.txt

REVULN 20x2 — Malta
Event: 15–16 October
Topic: Cybersecurity in iGaming and eSports
Deadline: August 31
CFP: https://revuln.com/20x2.txt

REVULN 20x1 — Manila (Philippines)
Event: December 2–4
Topic: Cybersecurity and hacking communities
Deadline: slots for open topic day still available
CFP: https://revuln.com/20x1.txt

Recently I also gave a short interview for Conference Spotlight of Infosec Conferences: https://infosec-conferences.com/revuln/