Summer is Here – and Black Hat USA is Near!

Cyber Security, Events, High Technology Posted Jul 2, 2018 by Doug De Orchis

For many in the business of cybersecurity or high technology, summertime is synonymous with Black Hat USA, one of the hottest information security events of the year. The conference will take place August 4-9 this year at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. If you already have plans to attend, you’ll find CHEN PR and several of our clients at the conference.

Now, there may be some of you who are unfamiliar with Black Hat or its history. We have you covered though. This week’s blog post will review the basics of this annual security industry shindig and how it has evolved during the past 21 years.

So, what Is Black Hat?

Black Hat Briefings (commonly referred to as Black Hat) is a computer security conference that provides security consulting, training, and briefings to hackers, corporations, and government agencies around the world. The event was founded in 1997 in Las Vegas by American hacker and cybersecurity expert Jeff Moss, who had also founded DEF CON four years prior. Black Hat USA 2018 opens with four days of technical Trainings (August 4 – 7) followed by the two-day main conference (August 8 – 9) featuring Briefings, Arsenal, Business Hall, and more. With attendance reaching 17.4k security-savvy professionals in 2017, attendance this year is expected to exceed 18k.

Ch Ch Ch Ch Changes……

Black Hat as we know it today is a far cry from its humble beginnings, both in terms of audience size and programming. The conference has shifted from its focus on enterprise security red teaming to include more defensive security work and security team management, in addition to its staple of systems exploits. Notably, the event added a CISO Summit to its schedule, which extended the length of the show by a day.

Black Hat has grown in other ways too. It has gone from one annual conference in Las Vegas to a global conference series with events in Abu Dhabi, Barcelona, and Washington DC.

Presentations at the inaugural Black Hat included talks on local network security assessments, firewall management and attack techniques over the Internet. During the years, briefings and demonstrations have become more sophisticated. Hackers have exposed how the electronic locks on your hotel room may not be safe, improved ways to detect online government censorship, and have even accessed ATMs.

In addition to the standard talks, training sessions, and legendary vendor parties, pranks run pretty rampant at Black Hat. In the past, attendees have hacked Las Vegas hotel TV billing systems and Wi-Fi networks to play tricks on other attendees. One year, I personally saw some hackers turn a video menu in front of a high-class burger establishment into a Burger King menu.

Have fun, but tread carefully

Whether you’re a security practitioner or a PR pro working on behalf of a vendor, Black Hat USA is always a fun time. That being said, gathering thousands of hackers in one place carries some risks. To conclude this blog post, keep the following in mind to protect your data at the show:

  • Stay away from Wi-Fi and turn off your Bluetooth.
  • If you must send something, encrypt it. Use a VPN.
  • Keep an eye on your stuff. Remember, hacks are not always done wirelessly.
  • If it’s electronic (or interacts with electronics), it can be hacked. That includes ATMs, hotel room keys, RFID cards, etc.