Sunday, August 2, 2015

"No cON Name: money doesn't add up"

José Nicolás Castellano. President of No cON Name conference.


Nico Castellano, 13 years as president of the most veteran Spanish public conference on hacking. It means since 2002, when nobody wanted to fund an event whose organizers were 18, even if trying to disguise age with senior suits. No cON Name was born in 1999, as a half underground and half business event, sponsored by S21Sec consulting, looking for so called "white hackers".  

Majorcan with Argentinian roots, Nico is a well-read man. He has got also a strong political baggage that never turned into hacktivist whims, at least as long as we know, despite his huges knowledges of computer security. He prefers researching on communications and systems, even when job has put him sometimes in areas like pentesting. Above all is his link to No cON Name, his passport to become an endearing personage of Hispanic hacker community.

How did you get into this?

It was a casual chance. When I was 14 a friend of mine came home with a modem and we went to Internet. He also came with some Linux distributions (Slackware and Redhat), and downloaded two programmes from "ham and wine" web. That blowed me away, puzzling me. Time later I rationalized that, and I began to think that what I was reading in news magazines were not utopia: we all could access any software, informations, worlds. Until then I was so brainless, thinking that an earthborn could only access to operate DOS or Mac.

Which one do you like more: NocON Name at Palma (then) or Barcelona (now)?

Of course, the one at Palma. It was shining youth and passion everywhere, since speakers to staff, despite we must mask it with businesslike looking, to achieve grants and sponsors.

What about RootedCON in Madrid? Did it make you to pale?

Rooted has done in a very short time an important work, and we have gone hand in hand in a lot of initiatives. But yep, there is some rivalry, not competition. Right now there are a lot of CON and each one has its own organization and way of being.

No cON Name will be free this year. Why?

Because sponsors don't fund as they did, and spaces renting is so expensive, so we have to resort to other funding ways. Something doesn't add up if we raise up tickets price, and is so risky: if it goes well, it will be not for our pockets; if it goes bad, they will be drilled.

What kind of funding way?

Right now I can not speak of how we will pay, because there is nothing really signed. Making a conference has no expenses, except if you aim to bring people from outside the city, consumable costs, marketing... These expenses may be reduced or you can choose another funding way.

13 years as No cON Name presidente... is not that too much? 

For me it is 13 years with many passion, organizing a conference of themes I like. Apart from being the president, that it is even a legal form and according to associations laws.

To go on is a tribute to your father?

I am thankful to my father because of cuffs, advices, valuable answers to untimely questions, experience voice, its view of political history of some countries, his love, patience and over all, thankful for being father. He played an important role as a mate and advisor in Barcelona editions of No cON Name, when I felt most alone.

You manage a cyber security company. Do SMB live in the lap of luxury of this sector?

It all depends on your strategy and your clients. It is hard to settle, due to plenty of professionals and a market pressured by some lobbies. If your target is Spain-based companies... yes, it is a hard market.

Have you ever thought in converting your company to something like Hacking Team?

No and it is very risky, especially if you don't know the objectives of those who will employ your products. Typical clients are polices close to mafia ways, governments in conflict countries, or intelligence agencies acting over the laws, or in not legal ways, looking to gain control over certain people.

What we do not know is that they are avoiding unwanted deaths or taking control over specific informations to benefit some lobbies. Clients from conflict or undeveloped countries just want to take control over subversive, journalists and activists, as we all know and Hacking Team leak has just unveiled.

Your Twitter profile says: 'Intuitive illuminated by forces of good'. Sorry?

My grand father gave me this name. Since then I appreciate it.

What about your life, Nico, if you did not get into this?

I really loved chemistry when I was a boy.


Text: Mercè Molist

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