BlackHat, Defcon, BSides, Here We Come..

It is time to attend BlackHat U.S.A. conference again and join the crowd (or herd?) of hackers (white and black hats), security researchers, consultants, security manager, information security officers. Since the conference is held in Las Vegas at the Caesar Palace Casino, it is kind of interesting to watch the scene of geeky crowd mingling with the gamblers and people nicely dressed ready for the night shows.
I attended BlackHat the first time in 2006 when I presented at a turbo talk session on Building Security In the SDLC, not quite the hacker’s topic …as I remember, it was quite stressful to be a speaker and I was rather scared to confront a very knowledgeable crowd of security folks that each attends BH…  Overall my presentation went OK but I remember I enjoyed more stressful free sunbathing at the Cabana/Booth that Foundstone Inc prepared at the venus/European syle pool at the Caesar palace casino :).
I attended BH and also Defcon in 2008 and 2009 but no longer as a speaker. I actually think Defcon is a lot of fun, you can learn from the real hackers (including the ones the get caught hacking on the Riviera Casino ATMs) and you can learn from thought leaders and stars of security like Bruce Schneier, Dan Kaminsky and others. You also get the most of your money attending Defcon instead of Blackhat since the conference fee only costs a small fraction (10% ) of what BH conference fee costs: compare $ 140 or Defcon vs. $1,800 for Blackhat….The value to attend BH nowadays, in my opinion, is mostly being able to get first hand information on exploits/hacks. As a zero-day vulnerability is announced, you ca get your company to act promptly remedied as soon as vulnerabilities are released to public. The other value of attending BH is the opportunity to network with other security professionals, promote your research/books and for me, to find good speakers for our local OWASP chapter.

Regarding the scheduled presentations of this year BH conference, there are several good ones that I would recommend attending such as Jack Barnaby’s “Jackpotting the ATM” (this is the talk that was pulled out last year but now can be released), Robert Hansen’s HTTPs can beat me”, Jeremiah Grossman’s “Breaking Browsers Hacking Autocomplete and Gunter Ollmann’s “becoming the six-million-dollar man”. There are also several presentations on mobile security that look very interesting to me, among them David Kane Perry’s “More Bugs in More Places: Secure Development on Mobile Platforms”. I usually tend to select talks based upon relevance for my work such as web application security as well as the reputation/bio of the presenter. I shared my selections on

Since I am staying in Las Vegas till Sunday for attending Defcon (the sister security conference that starts on Thursday till Sunday at the Riviera Hotel) I also plan to attend the few talks that were also presented at BH but that I could not attend over there.

There is also a new conference this year: BSides. BSides is an open security conference that combines structured events with grass-root security talks. I heard good things about BSides, it was held before during the RSA conference in San Francisco. My friend Tony UcedaVelez (co-author with me of the future Application Threat Modeling book) and his company Versprite are among the sponsors of the BSides Las Vegas conference. If you are in Las Vegas and you read this post, hope to meet you over there at either one of these conferences. I also kindly recommend my favorite place for breakfast, that for me is cappuccino and croissants: Payard Pastisserie and Bistro @ Ceasar Palace…

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