PowerShell Conference EU 2018

The US-based “PowerShell and DevOps Global Summit” sold out in record time this year, and the European “PowerShell Conference EU” (psconf.eu) is filling quickly. Both take place in April 2018. If they are new to you, then it’s probably because they are community-organized events, without a profit intention and with no huge marketing budget. That being said there is work being done to try to expand said marketing budget in the near future. 

One of the ways we are trying to give ourselves a larger online marketing presence is by hiring a wikipedia page consultant. This person will be in charge of giving us a professionally formatted wikipedia presence that our potential clients can peruse to learn about our business. Expanding the marketing budget is important of course, but in the meantime there are alternatives that we as a business can use that are still well within our budget. We should turn to those first to be sure.

As a co-organizer of psconf.eu, I’d like to walk you through this year’s event and some of its ideas. Here is the official AfterMovie from PSConfEU 2017.

Psconf.eu takes place this year April 17-20, in Hanover, Germany. The full agenda and last-minute information are available at www.psconf.eu.

There is no doubt that PowerShell is an essential skill set for modern administrators, and it has always evolved. When you look at the PowerShell ecosystem in the past 12 months, though, you’ll see an unprecedented pile of changes, some of which are transformative and even disruptive.

PowerShell went open-source, PowerShell Core 6 goes cross-platform and reaches out to Linux and macOS, admins are faced with two PowerShell “editions”, and Windows PowerShell is frozen. It’s an exciting mix of opportunities (reaching out to Linux/macOS, managing heterogenous environments, using PowerShell in the cloud) and deep desire for guidance (will I have to rewrite scripts with PowerShell Core 6? How can I develop code that works in all PowerShell editions? How safe is it to continue to rely on Windows PowerShell 5?).

Problem is: you can’t attend classes or get books for answers to any of these questions. Once there are classes or books, they would inevitably be outdated again. Classes and books are great for fundamentals, but too static to cope with cutting edge topics, and Microsoft has been pretty cutting edge lately.

As an admin in a small shop, you may get away with ignoring the latest developments for a while. As a consultant or admin in larger enterprises, you cannot. First-hand & cutting-edge information is what your future decisions are based on. It drives your business. Guaranteeing state of the art and safe operations is a must.

That’s why PowerShell conferences are partially serving the training for hot topics these days and feel more like an intense advanced training for experienced PowerShell professionals. Instead of asking for permission to go to a conference, it would probably be more accurate to tap your training budget.

Should you feel you can’t get out of your job for 4 days, consider this: by bringing together experts from all disciplines to one location, and embedding them into a well-designed and rich agenda, surrounded by social and workshop events, these conferences provide the answers, guidance and orientation that save you endless hours of internet research, make sure you won’t reinvent the wheel, focus on future-proof techniques, and use the latest security guidelines.

Getting Orientation and Guidance

On day 1, we open the conference with delegate registration and then start together in the great historic Leibniz Saal. PowerShell inventor Jeffrey Snover kicks off the event with his keynote “PowerShell 2018 – State of the Art”, providing solid orientation and guidance: where do we stand, where do we go from here. Then, the conference fans out into three parallel tracks, most of which are delivered in English.

Some of these presentations dig deeper into PowerShell Core: Wojciech Sciesinski explains how to create future-proof PowerShell modules that are compatible with all PowerShell editions, and work cross-platform. PowerShell team members from Redmond showcase their current developments, Ben Gelens talks about new DSC, and German .NET Guru Dr. Schwichtenberg explains what to do with PowerShell on Linux, and summarizes the essential .NET knowledge any ambitioned PowerShell user should have.

No-Nonsense Sessions & Discussions

If you ever attended a classic conference, you know how exhausting it can be to listen to endless presentations and slide decks. At psconf.eu, all presentations are 45 minutes sharp, then open up in discussion. We want presentations to be concise and on the point, and prefer demos over endless slides. At the end, you have 15 minutes of Q&A. “Presentations are great, but coffee breaks are where you meet people” This is why psconf.eu has the highest coffee break ratio in the industry: Chat with the presenters, let the information further sink in, defrag your mind, and connect to others.

All materials will be downloadable, and sessions are recorded so you can replay them later. “Ask the Speakers” on day 1, “Ask the Experts” at every lunch, and the speakers and Microsoft finale at the end are all chances to get information for anything that wasn’t covered in the presentations. If you leave the event with a PowerShell question unanswered, then you did not ask.

Social Event

This is a personal conference where you get to know people, and know whom to ask. That’s why there is a limit on the number of delegates, and why we have social evenings. The legendary evening event on day 1 takes place in “Yukon Bay” again, an ancient gold digger town in the heart of the Hanover Zoo. It will be a big “Hello” for the alumnis, and a warm “Welcome” to anyone new to psconf.eu. We’ll have great food and drinks, polar bears and seals, beer and wine, and the chance to hang loose and make new connections and friendships. Everyone hangs out, including speakers. You may want to continue to talk about PowerShell, but you may just as well just kick back and enjoy the evening, the likelihood of which raises over time and number of beers.

Security – Essential Knowledge to Boost Your Career

psconf.eu delivers 75 sessions and covers almost every aspect of PowerShell. It wouldn’t make sense to go over all sessions here. Visit www.psconf.eu instead and review the full agenda. Tip: hover over a session to view the abstract. The agenda is preliminary, and we hope to be able to implement a mobile-friendly version soon.

One topic stands out: Security. We want delegates to become security experts and really know the best practices and how to deal with unsafe code and attackers. “Investing in people” is the best protection you can get, and psconf.eu is the place where you can do this investment, and improve security awareness and skills:

Security expert Matt Graeber reviews “the current state of PowerShell Security Features and Bypasses”. This includes JEA (“Just Enough Admin”), and when used correctly, it can be tremendously effective to increase security by reducing the blast radius of a compromise. Jan-Hendrik Peters and Raimund Andree from Microsoft Germany show you how: “Hands-on JEA”, complimented by David das Neves and Julien’s two-slot “The PowerShell Security Best Practice Live Demo”.

That’s literally just the tip of the iceberg. Red Teams and nation state threat actors alike are using PowerShell obfuscation to evade detection. Come see how the author of Invoke-Obfuscation and one of the original PowerShell developers tackle detecting obfuscation with PowerShell’s Abstract Syntax Tree and science in Revoke-Obfuscation (“Revoke-Obfuscation: PowerShell Obfuscation Detection (And Evasion) Using Science”). Attackers constantly update their tradecraft, forcing defenders to quickly build, tune, deploy & maintain detections in never-ending sprints. Check out how applying DevOps practices & frameworks like Pester, ScriptAnalyzer, & custom fuzzers can drive robust methodology-based detection development (“DevSec Defense: How DevOps Practices Can Drive Detection Development For Defenders”)

Will Schroeder, one of the contributors of the “PowerShell Empire” post-exploitation agent, together with Jared Atkinson and Matt Graeber, sets up one of the three coding workshops on day 2 where you can get hands-on experience and learn how to check for security breaches in your own IT infrastructure.

Plain Good Old PowerShell Knowledge

Not every session is dead serious. The entire event is designed to have fun. Here are just a couple of sessions that are a bit eerie: Bartosz Bielawski dives into “PowerShell Yin-Yang: The Worst Practices and Tips & Tricks”: Every Yin has its Yang. Every Jedi has her Sith. Every bad practice can be balanced with an awesome trick. Join me to see the darkest places of PowerShell scripting universe so that you know what to avoid! Get to know tricks that will impress your peers and tips that will make your life easier!

At PSConfEU17, Mathias Jessen talked about regex, and some of its common applications. This year, he’ll dive straight-first into some of the most bizarre functions .NET regex offers – the outer edge cases. Staffan Gustafsson takes a deep look into the PowerShell type system, including examples on how you can use it to adapt standard and third party types to your own situation and workflow.  And Jared Atkinson investigates .NET reflection and how to access the Windows API from within PowerShell.

So to wrap it up, we’d love to welcome you in Hanover! To register and reserve your seat, or review the agenda, please visit www.psconf.eu. Should you have any questions, please drop me a mail at tobias@powertheshell.com.

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