By: Dr. Leigh Noble & Claire Stirm
The annual Gateways conference is the perfect venue for gateway creators and enthusiasts to come together, learn from each other, and exchange ideas. This year, more than 221 participants gathered virtually, from October 12–23. With COVID-19 changing the location from Bethesda, Maryland to the comfort of everyone’s own home, the attendees still gained real takeaways.
SIMIODE Technology Director and first-time attendee, Dr. Leigh Noble, shared his experience after attending Gateways 2020:
Gateways 2020 was my first Gateways conference. It was virtual this year, like so much else in our lives right now. There were plenty of people available to help with difficulties connecting or navigating the space. There were many virtual spaces for networking. I signed up for 2 workshops and scheduled a full slate of seminars and learning labs in my calendar.
The workshop on “Secure Coding Practices & Automated Assessment Tools” given by representatives of TrustedCI was exactly what I hoped it would be. It started as a crash course explaining how websites can be misused in unexpected ways, which cause errors or allow malicious manipulation. The presenters included recommended coding practices to prevent these types of attacks and some discussion of how to assess programs to reveal problematic code. After a quick break for lunch we returned to try our hand at exploiting a website in a virtual machine image. This was a great experience for me. Before this workshop, I had read about these kinds of exploits but really didn't understand how someone would actually perform the exploit. Now that I've done it myself in this workshop, I understand the dangers much better and realize how important it is to use secure coding practices.
All of the workshops, paper presentations and learning labs I attended were informative. I had heard of many of the projects or software before the conference, but didn't have a good idea of what they were. After the conference, I felt like I had gained a lot more knowledge about what these different projects and software actually did. The poster sessions gave me a wider view of the types of things that interns and others are involved in. The learning labs provided an opportunity to interact directly with others interested in the same thing. This conference gave me a wider view of science gateways in general and exposed me to new concepts.
Although I had heard about the Gateways conference for a few years, this was the first one I attended. Participating in the conference was valuable to me in ways I had not anticipated. I was able to learn rapidly about many different aspects of science gateways. The conference was friendly and encouraged networking among participants. After I attended, I wondered why I waited so long to decide to attend. To anyone involved in running or administering a science gateway, I recommend you attend or present at this conference next year.