Hacker, cyber security

Why we need events like Black Hat more than ever

Security is coming to Sin City this week, as the 21st annual Black Hat conference kicks off on Saturday 4th August. Record numbers of security professionals, researchers, leaders in public and private sectors, and hackers are expected to descend on Las Vegas for the annual six-day training event and conference.

For over two decades, Black Hat has gained a world-renowned reputation for its cutting-edge agendas, briefings and technical training focused on the latest developments, trends and research in information security. Both Black Hat and DEFCON, Black Hat’s ‘edgier’ older brother which takes place on the 9th August, have reported year-on-year growth in attendance. This reflects not only a burgeoning information security sector, but also a growing appetite for dedicated events where industry peers can collaborate and share ideas.

Black Hat may be famous for its yearly hacking stunts, but the security event has never been more relevant. We’re experiencing an unrelenting cybercrime epidemic, with criminals scaling up operations targeting almost every aspect of our tech-connected lives. According to Gartner, there will be 20 billion devices connected to the internet by 2020 – each a potential point of weakness and means of infiltration by a hacker.

In recent years, hackers have compromised multi-national conglomerates, stolen the personal details of millions and even impacted national elections. Predictions suggest that the annual cost of cybercrime will reach $6 trillion by 2021. The threat is growing, and it’s a borderless one, with no country immune.

Fighting this threat requires collaboration between security leaders. Events like Black Hat offer an important opportunity to bring together some of the brightest industry minds, to share ideas and information on tackling the latest and most impactful threats and unearthing new vulnerabilities that could post future problems if left unchecked.

Furthermore, with 800,000 cybersecurity jobs expected to by unfilled in the UK by 2020, Black Hat and other cybersecurity events also provide a unique meeting place for cybersecurity professionals and potential employers, and a vehicle for plugging the current skills gap. The security skills gap is now so evident, particularly in the UK, that companies such as our client SANS Institute are turning to the younger generations to encourage entry into the cybersecurity profession and build out our front line of cyber defences.

At this year’s event, researchers will explore the hacking of voting machines – quite timely, given recent media scrutiny on the topic. Other training sessions and briefings will cover software hacks, machine learning, the IoT, staff awareness strategies, social engineering, penetration testing, the cloud, DevSecOps, data breach response plans – and everything in between.

The general belief in security today is that it’s no longer a matter of if your network, device, personal account etc, will be attacked, but when. With this in mind, it’s vital that government, business, academia – and even hackers – pool their collective expertise to keep pace with malicious forces.

Cybersecurity should never stop, and neither should the sharing of insight, expertise and knowledge in this space. Navigating current issues is not an easy task; the world of cybersecurity is a complex one. Creating a collaborative and supportive community through industry events, at which experts can convene to address current threats, is and will remain a key weapon in the battle against the bad guys.

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