Changes to the Forensic 4:cast Awards

In June we held the tenth annual Forensic 4:cast Awards. This also signaled the ninth year of us holding the awards at the SANS DFIR Summit.

After the awards in June I felt somewhat discouraged that many of the awards went unclaimed. I asked for suggestions on how to best improve the awards (see here: I had an amazing response. People commented, emailed and even called me about these issues with great ideas of their own.

I’ve felt as if things have needed to be changed for a while now, but 1) I pay for all of this myself, and 2) my time is very precious to me and I don’t have a lot to spare. Therefore making changes has always been an area of concern, but this year I feel as if my hand has been forced. I have, therefore, decided on the following:

  1. SANS and the awards have been ubiquitous. For nine years SANS has provided a great venue and helped to grow the awards. By the same token SANS has also benefited from the additional marketing resulting from their involvement. I have no intention of changing this. I love the venue and it just seems to fit the summit. Now, that does not mean that I’m not averse to doing more localized versions in the future at other events, or even licensing the awards to more local events, but that isn’t anything like a fully-baked idea yet, so don’t quote me on doing those. If you have an interest, reach out to me and we can discuss it.
  2. Announcing of winners – vendors. I’ve played with this idea for a while. I know some vendors that love the awards and insist that their people attend to collect (assuming that they win, of course), but others simply can’t attend due to time, money or other commitments. I completely understand this and so I’ve decided to keep the categories that involve the vendors but shift them out of the live awards. Instead, I will list the winners of these awards in a single slide at the end of the awards show and simultaneously announce them on the 4:cast page, on Twitter, and so on. This will apply to vendor-related awards only. If the vendors have a presence at the awards, I will hand them the awards afterwards, but this will not be part of the overall event.
  3. Announcing of winners – individuals. Again, there are instances where individuals win awards but are unable to attend. This is something I’m prepared to live with. Most years the winners of these awards have been present in the audience. As such, all of the individual categories will still be part of the event and will be announced as in previous years.
  4. Additional categories. Part of the many suggestions I’ve received has been the inclusion of more categories. Next year, more categories will be added. What they look like, that’s difficult to say right now as I have many suggestions. The one that made me actually laugh out loud was, “Best weekly and monthly forensic-in-review blog and podcast by an Australian who is also involved with law enforcement who has been robbed two years in a row.”
  5. Live voting. Some of the newer categories may end up being event-specific. As such, I’m going to set up live voting during the summit, but only for those attending the event. Voting for other categories will remain the same as in previous years. How the voting will work for the live categories will take some discussion with the events team, but I’m certain that we can make it work and that it will be a great experience for all.
  6. Other changes. I’ve been looking at the whole submission process and, while Google Docs has been great in the past, I’m evaluating other platforms and options that offer more features and improve the experience all-round. I’ll also be refining my own processes to make sure that the nominees know that they have, indeed, been nominated so that they can make an effort to attend. Also, in the past, SANS has opened the awards part of the summit for all nominees to attend at no cost. In addition, they’ve provided significant discounts for nominees to attend the full summit. I’m going to be working with SANS to see if we can extend this to each year going forward.

So that’s it for now. Look out for the start of the nominations to start in January, some of the new categories may be surprising.

One response to “Changes to the Forensic 4:cast Awards”

  1. Oooh. First to comment.

    In spite of being English, I think you’re on the right track here. I also think the majority of the community appreciate what you do with the awards and will back you as you try to change for the better and forgive your mistakes as you move forward (Cough. Clippy. Cough).

    What happens with the awards which vendors don’t turn up and collect? Do you end up out of pocket having produced them and again ot of pocket paying to ship them? Is there an opportunity to make some cost savings on the physiscal award in the case of vendors (I’m pretty sure individiuals would still cherish having the physical award).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.