I've been observing, in great detail, the progression of the coronavirus around the world. It caused us to postpone DEF CON China 2.0 at the end of January and now people are wondering if we will have to cancel DEF CON 28 in Las Vegas. Here are my thoughts and generalizations, round numbers, and guesstimates:

The worst of SARS-2-Cov hit China around the end of January, about week 5, and by March 2nd China started going back to work. They have entered their "new normal" of having gotten past the worst impacts of overloaded hospitals, in essentially about 9 weeks after it was publicly noticed at the end of December 2019.

Singapore, where Black Hat postponed their event, was through their initial phase around the start of March as well and is operating under the "new normal" - heightened awareness, public messaging, observation and testing. There is spare contact tracing and ICU capacity. The duration to get to this state was about 8 weeks.

One of the reasons the duration was about 8-9 weeks in China and Singapore was because of a "whole of government" response to the crisis. I don't feel the US is there yet, and because of that the duration of the first phase will be longer than 8-9 weeks. Will it be 12 weeks? 16 weeks? I don't know. But it can't be forever.

Italy is in the peak of their crisis right now, and according to this data (See graph below) the US is trending about 11.5 days behind. We are essentially in week 4 with the peak about to hit in week 5 and 6.

Things outside our control:
  • US / Nevada / Las Vegas rules that would prohibit holding the conference.
  • What the coronavirus decides to do next.
The assumptions that will help decide when to decide if DEF CON 28 gets cancelled:
  • Week 10 is about April 20th -> Based on how the US is responding that will be too soon to decide.
  • Week 16 is about June 1st -> This is almost 7 weeks more than China / Singapore and by this time everything will be much better understood. WINNER!
So come June 1st 2020, if it isn't already clear to us, we will pause our frantic DC28 planning and talk with the hotel to see how they are feeling, with Black Hat to see what their numbers are looking like, and check what current global travel restrictions are and if they are expected to change.

Essentially do we feel the United States is operating in or close to the "new normal"? If yes then continue planning.

That will still give us an additional 5 week buffer until the conference August 6 for things to continue to normalize.

I'll update this post if anything changes!

The Dark Tangent
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