This year marks the 25th anniversary of Black Hat, which will take place from August 6-11 at Mandalay Bay. In this interview, Steve Wylie, Vice President (Market Pillar Lead, Cybersecurity) and General Manager of Black Hat, reflects on this significant milestone, previews the event’s keynotes and exciting research to be unveiled at the event and shares how attendees and exhibitors can best maximize their experience.
Steve is a senior business leader with extensive experience in the technology information services industry. His background includes launching conferences focused on the latest technology trends as well as running major industry events around the world. He is currently Vice President, Cybersecurity Market Group at Informa Tech where he oversees a portfolio of market intelligence, media and event businesses and leads the company’s overall strategy for the Cybersecurity market. Informa Tech’s Cybersecurity brands include Black Hat, Dark Reading, SecTor and Omdia.
Q: This year marks the 25th anniversary of the conference. Does Black Hat have any special activities planned to celebrate this milestone?
A: We’re really excited to be celebrating Black Hat’s 25th anniversary and have seen a lot of excitement from attendees and exhibitors on coming back in-person. We have a lot of exhibitors that will be hosting parties and networking events which can be seen here. We also have a great lineup of Briefings and Keynotes including Chris Krebs, who be reflecting on 25 years of Black Hat and how the Infosec community has evolved. For the full schedule of features, attendees can view that on our website: https://www.blackhat.com/us-22/features/schedule/index.html.
Q: Looking back over the past 25 years, what are 2-3 conference highlights that helped advance the cybersecurity for all users today?
A: I would say some of the conference highlights that have really stood out over the years would include our Keynote from Jen Easterly for Black Hat USA 2021. This was one of the first conferences she presented at as the new Director of Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), just weeks after taking office. She also had announced a new effort called the Joint Cyber Defense Collaborative (JCDC) during her talk.
Another great session was in 2015, Remote Exploitation of an Unaltered Passenger Vehicle. The researchers were able to do a demonstration of hacking a vehicle while in motion with reporter Andy Greenberg of Wired. The hackers were able to call attention to vulnerabilities in Internet-connected entertainment and navigation systems featured in many new vehicles, which in turn introduced new legislation calling for the FTC and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to secure the safety of cars on the road.
Q: Black Hat has always been a great venue to unveil new security research. What can we expect this year?
A: This year we’ll see a few talks dissecting the various cyberattacks involving the Ukraine/Russia war including Real ‘Cyber War’: Espionage, DDoS, Leaks, and Wipers in the Russian Invasion of Ukraine, and Industoyer2: Sandworm’s Cyberwarfare Targets Ukraine’s Power Grid Again. We’ve seen excitement over the Glitched on Earth by Humans: A Black-Box Security Evaluation of the SpaceX Starlink User Terminal diving into the attack on satellite internet. We’ll have a lot of really great tool demonstrations in the Arsenal like The Metasploit Framework.
Q: How many CFPs did you receive this year? What can interested speakers do to increase their chances of being selected at future conferences?
A: We don’t disclose the number of submissions we receive, but I will say our Review Board works hard to hand-select the very best research for our events to ensure we can provide attendees with the latest best practices and vulnerability research. The best way to get your talk selected is to make sure you have really solid content – submitting thought provoking and novel research. We have a lot of great CFP submission resources as provided by our Review Board which are available on our website: https://www.blackhat.com/call-for-papers.html.
Q: Chris Krebs, former Director of CISA, is this year’s keynote. Why was he selected and can you give us a quick snapshot of his talk?
A: We’ve worked with Chris in years past and we’ve continued to hold a great relationship with him. He offers a unique perspective for the infosec community and we’re really excited to have him as our Day 1 Keynote. He’ll be presenting his talk, “Black Hat at 25: Where Do We Go from Here?” He’ll work through today’s risk trends and what they mean for tomorrow’s network defenders, suggesting along the way the needed shifts in both mindset and action to successfully deliver better outcomes while recognizing that we’re going to be forever operating in a contested information environment.
Additionally, we’ve announced Kim Zetter as our Day 2 Keynote. Kim has been covering cybersecurity and national security for more than a decade, writing for outlets such as Wired, New York Times and more. Her talk is entitled, “Pre-Stuxnet, Post-Stuxnet: Everything Has Changed, Nothing Has Changed.”
Q: What do you think security vendors can do more effectively to market their value-prop at Black Hat and beyond?
A: We consistently hear from our attendees that they want to speak to subject matter experts. The security vendors who understand that about Black Hat and staff their booths and sessions with technical experts generally align well with attendee expectations.
Q: We are still dealing with a pandemic. Any lessons learned from last year’s show (or even other shows this year i.e. CES, RSA) that will help reduce the risk of COVID for in-person exhibitors and attendees?
A: Last year we had a great turnout for our first hybrid event and we were really happy to see attendees follow our masking and social distancing guidelines. We’ve continued to work with local authorities and our venue partner, Mandalay Bay, to adhere to those guidelines. We would suggest attendees and exhibitors follow CDC guidelines to keep healthy and reduce your risk of catching or spreading COVID.
Photo Credit: Security Magazine