“It’s all about the journey, not the destination.”
This was the main takeaway that we fellows took from our experience at the recent APNIC 48 conference in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where we learnt that the Internet is only as open, stable, and secure as the community that develops and maintains it.
I was one of 52 fellows from 20 economies participating in the workshops and conference. It was so interesting to be a part of and learn from such a large and diverse group of people, with so many different backgrounds, technical experiences and points of view.
Sharing what we learnt with our colleagues
APNIC 48 started with five days of intense workshops covering network security, IPv6 deployment, Software Defined Networking, and Advanced BGP and ROV.
Although I only attended the conference, several of my fellow friends participated in the security workshop including Naznin Akter. She said it covered network security fundamentals, vulnerabilities and mitigation on different layers of the TCP/IP stack, cryptography and PKI, and honeypots.
“We learnt about honeypots, honeynets, and honey tokens and got a clearer view about various types of network attacks, their severities, and different methods of access control such as authentication, authorization and accountability,” said Naznin.
Speaking to other attendees, the information and acquired skills learned in these and other workshops, particularly through the hands-on labs, was valuable; with many, including Naznin, looking forward to implementing it as soon as we returned to work.
“I’ve already shared what I learned, including the documents I received, with my work colleagues so they could also get a deeper knowledge of network security system, and deployed some of them in our network to improve our security policies,” said Naznin.
Another fellow, Praneet Kaur, has already organized a session about IPv6 through her organization, with a total of 40 participants on site and remotely.
Learning from experience
Apart from the workshops, tutorials and informative sessions, there were plenty of opportunities for fellows and newer community members to mingle and network with more experienced community members.
One such opportunity was the excellent speed dating session with the Asia Pacific Network Group (APNG) alumni and President Director. They shared their experiences on how to manage their yearly APNG camp, and their working experiences.
Another was the NextGen Careers BoF during which we learnt from five incredible panellists that it is common to not come from a networking background, or to be confused and question what you are doing in this community, as it was something they had all experienced too.
Pavel Farhan, one of the conference fellows from Thailand, said he felt he could relate to the speakers because he too was “someone who now found himself in a field [he] never imagined [he] was going to be in,” having studied Biology and Chemistry before turning to Computer Engineering. He was looking forward to sharing these thoughts at the upcoming SEA-HAZEMON@TEIN Workshop on Internet of Things and Air Pollution Monitoring, as am I at the Indonesia IGF 2019 where I intend to lead the national cybersecurity discussion.
Through its fellowship program, APNIC has made a concerted effort to address the ICT industry’s gender diversity issue, which often makes itself very apparent at such technical conferences. Of the 52 fellows, half were female.
Adding to this, APNIC held a Women in ICT session during the conference; men were also invited to attend and contribute to the discussion. We discussed things such as what challenges women faced working in the industry, what we would all say to our younger selves, and who were our female role models.
One of the speakers, Narelle Wakely, said, “It is sad that we still talk about equal rights for women when it comes to pay and work culture.” She also pointed out that it is our responsibility to make the right culture for women to work in ICT.
Mary Rose Ofianga Rontal, a returning fellow from the Philippines, shared her tips on how to step up and stand out as women in ICT, including why learning new skills was very important and how technology was helping connect unconnected communities in the Philippines agriculture industry.
Making ourselves heard
APNIC 48 was truly an incredible journey for all of us. Thank you APNIC and all the sponsors for giving us a once-in-a-lifetime moment, and we look forward to sharing the lessons we’ve learnt as well as contributing to the community in the future. Be sure to check out our Fellows Blog, to which we hope to post content soon!
Svaradiva Devi was an APNIC 48 Fellow and is the chairwoman/co-founder of Internet Development Institute (ID Institute).
The views expressed by the authors of this blog are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of APNIC. Please note a Code of Conduct applies to this blog.