Call for Papers

The Call for Papers for the 2023 edition of BSides Zurich is now closed! We are currently reviewing submissions and will announce speakers very soon. Thanks to all who submitted their proposals!

Conference format

We want BSides Zurich to be a conference where attendees and speakers have a real opportunity to mingle and engage in active discussions. In order to achieve this, we chose an atypical conference format that our attendees have really enjoyed.

There are a total of 6 talks plus a keynote, all in English. Talks are grouped by 3 and are divided into two sessions (morning and afternoon). Each talk is only 20 minutes long, and after the 3 morning talks, each speaker gets an assigned room for a 30-minute-long breakout “discussion” session. Participants can pick the talk that interested them the most and attend that session. Or they can just ask a few questions, and hop onto another session! Think of discussion sessions as a 30-minute-long Q&A where participants and speakers can really take time to ask and answer questions, deep-dive into that demo, and get into the nitty-gritty details of their topic. The same happens after lunch, in the afternoon.

A typical day at BSides Zurich goes like this:

08:45 – 09:30 Registration
09:30 – 09:45 Welcome and Event presentation
09:45 – 10:30 Keynote
10:30 – 11:00 Coffee break

Morning session
11:00 – 12:10 3 x 20 short talks
12:15 – 12:25 Short Coffee break
12:30 – 13:00 Discussion groups hop on hop off
13:00 – 14:15 Lunch break

Afternoon session
14:30 – 15:40 3 x 20 short talks
15:45 – 15:55 Short Coffee break
16:00 – 16:30 Discussion groups hop on hop off
16:35 – 17:00 Closing remarks and... swag
17:00 – Social Drinks

In a nutshell, as a speaker you should remember to prepare a talk that you can give in 20 minutes, and enough material for a 30-minute-long Q&A.

Submitting a talk

Submit a talk:

Deadline for submissions: 2023-06-01 23:59:59 CET

As mentioned above, your talk should be 20 minutes long, and provide enough discussion points for about a half hour of Q&A session. If you’ve never presented before, we’d be very happy to mentor you to give you all the chances of producing a knockout talk!

We would like to specifically encourage people from underrepresented groups to submit a talk. We are committed to providing the safe and welcoming environment for everyone.

The process for submitting is fairly straightforward – provide an abstract of your talk (ideally with an outline of the points you’re planning to cover, and some discussion points you’re planning to raise during your breakout session) and send it to us.

The main topic, as you may have guessed, is cybersecurity, and any topic goes: reverse engineering, application security, forensics, incident response, threat intelligence, hardware exploitation…

To summarize:

  • Language: the talk and slides must be in English.
  • Duration: Talks are 20 minutes long, so make sure you keep it short and sweet!
  • Q&A: The breakout sessions are about 30 minutes long and will give you plenty of time to go into more depth.
  • We recommend that you end your presentation with questions that will encourage dialogue with your audience – people are often shy to start with!

Mentoring program

Mentoring program opt-in: email us at bsideszh [at] gmail [dot] com.

Deadline for mentoring program opt-in: 2023-05-18 23:59:59 CET

Our industry is full of experienced speakers who give great talks. But we also like to have new people talk at BSides!

To encourage first-time presenters to submit papers, we have been running a special opt-in mentoring program. This is specifically geared towards first-time presenters, but also experienced speakers who feel unsure about the format of their talk and whether it’s adapted to the conference.

The program pairs potential presenters with some members of the Program Committee, so that they spend some hours working together (usually asynchronously over email) to generate feedback and tweak the presentation so that it’s better suited for the conference format.

Some more clarifications:

  • The program is completely opt-in, but we do ask participants to commit to working on the feedback from their mentors to make it worth everyone’s time;
  • The Program Committee does not take participation in the mentoring program into account when picking talks. Participation in the program will not be reflected in the conference agenda, or otherwise shared outside the Program Committee;
  • Although the resulting presentation will have higher chances of getting accepted, going through the mentoring program offers no guarantee that your talk will get picked.
  • Deadlines for participating in the mentoring program are about a month earlier than for regular submissions.

Selection process

After submission deadline is over, each submission gets reviewed by a subset of the Program Committee and rated according to criteria like technical depth, novelty, potential for creating interesting discussion, etc. When all ratings are in, the organizers and Program Committee members meet and pick the talks that made it to the top in most areas.

Tips for good submissions:

  • Make sure to respect the format (20 minutes talk, adapted to the breakout session model);
  • Please no sales pitches or single product reviews;
  • No demos or videos in your talk (it’s OK to keep them for the Q&A/Discussion session);
  • Make sure to put sufficient care, attention, and time into your submission. If it’s botched or unclear and we’re not able to properly evaluate it, we won’t accept it.

Deadline for opting-in to the mentoring program: 2023-05-18 23:59:59 CET

Deadline for submissions: 2023-06-01 23:59:59 CET

Program Committee review: TBA

Communication to speakers: TBA

Useful links:

  • Submit a talk: Pretalx
  • Opt-in to mentoring: Send an email to bsideszh [at] gmail [dot] com

If you have any doubts or questions about the Call for Papers, please reach out to us via email (bsideszh [at] gmail [dot] com) or on Twitter @BSidesZurich .

Program Committee

… and more to come!