What We Learned At Money20/20 2017

Courtesy Jefferson Graham

Setting up biometrics for payment verification at Money20/20. Photo courtesy of Jefferson Graham.

Biometrics, facial recognition and implanted chips were just some of the advancements in payments at this year’s Money20/20 conference. Trending topics included digital currencies and blockchain with supporters such as Steve Wozniak and skeptics like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Uber, with partners Barclays and Visa, released a credit card. Shopping experiences are changing with augmented reality glasses, iris authentication and advanced mobile payments. Check out some of our key takeaways from this event.

New Payments/Higher Adoption With Alternative Methods

  • Only 25% of US retailers offer contactless terminals accepting mobile payments and only 10% of consumers pay with mobile. Despite these low stats, tech companies are trying new methods.
  • Biometrics – Facial recognition can be safer and more reliable than a thumbprint. Users can sign in with their eyes, facial expressions and voice. Even traditional credit card companies are adopting this. Visa is offering biometrics for its mobile wallet, Visa Checkout and Mastercard are forgoing signatures post-purchases.
  • Finger – FingoPay, a finger scanner connected to your credit card can be used without a cell phone. “You become the wallet,” said Nick Dryden of FingoPay.
  • Implanted Chips – The Wisconsin company, Three Square Market, that implanted microchips in their employees last summer also made an appearance. No batteries, pins, or passwords are needed to make a payment.

Digital Currencies and Blockchain

  • Steve Wozniak thinks Bitcoin is better than both gold and the US dollar because it cannot be diluted. Bitcoin is more mathematical than gold because it’s regulated and “nobody can change mathematics.”
  • Both bitcoin and blockchain have the potential to help financial inclusion, but there have been questions if the technology is there yet. One reason is performance. No public blockchain can match the 1,000 or more transactions per second of real-time domestic payment systems.
  • Not everyone was skeptical of these new financial solutions. Christine Duhaime, founder of the Digital Finance Institute, a Canadian fintech think tank, was all for it. For countries, such as Afghanistan, where exchanging money is dangerous and financial services are limited, bitcoin can be a safer option.

“It allows access to capital for Joe Average on the street, said Christine Duhaime, founder of the Digital Finance Institute. “It could be a farmer, it could be a billionaire – it doesn’t matter. You skip the markets, you skip the infrastructure, you get access to capital.”

Uber’s Credit Card

  • Backed by Barclays bank, Uber’s new no fee credit card adds tracking and rewards directly into the Uber app. Rewards range from such as 4% percent back on dining, 3% on travel, 2% of online purchases and 1% cash back on other transactions.
  • So what’s the catch? Lack of consumer data privacy could be one. Uber has had past issues with tracking unaware customers’ locations with God View.
  • Starting November 2, Uber will give users the option to get the card right in-app or online.

Augmented Reality Shopping  

  • Mastercard showed fashionistas the future of retail complete with an AR-based shopping experience. Shoppers could see digital representations of products through ODG’s sleek smart glasses before purchase and learn about options that are not available in stores.
  • To pay for your new clothes and accessories, Qualcomm’s technology and iris authentication allows users to select a card from their Mastercard Masterpass-enabled wallet to pay. Items could be shipped either to stores or your home for pick-up.

Highwire’s Official Black Hat 2017 Recap

After some time to reflect, here’s our recap of Black Hat 2017 in Las Vegas.

For two decades, the annual conference has been creating opportunities for like-minded security researchers, influencers and hackers to mix and mingle. Talented practitioners across the globe flock to Black Hat, jumping at the chance to show off their latest findings, research and hacking techniques. For this community, it’s all about street cred, and Black Hat prides itself as being the premier stage for the best and the brightest. This year proved no differently, and members from Highwire PR’s security practice had a front row seat on all the action. Here are the takeaways:

Black Hat is Evolving

In the world of cybersecurity, insight is key and, at times, absolutely critical. Navigating this dark and interconnected web is complicated, and for vendors working to develop the latest and greatest in threat protection, Black Hat certainly fits the bill. Highwire saw an increase in client presence beyond the typical, passive 20×20 booth set-up. Instead, our clients were actively looking to advance their knowledge, specialize their technique and better understand what their customers are facing. Black Hat has evolved into the catalyst for that learning. And the awareness is growing. Although hacker attendees still reign during this week, we’ve seen more and more clients’ C-Suite inquiring in curious and positive ways about the conference as a strategic investment.

WannaCry is Still Making Us…well, Wanna Cry

Rubbing elbows with more than 15,000 security professionals gave the Highwire team perspective into some of the year’s more notable cybersecurity breaches. We heard first-hand what attendees thought of the infamous “WannaCry” ransomware attack. Almost 50-percent of people we spoke to felt as though this particular headliner was the “most over-hyped security breach” over the past year. Interestingly enough however, a near identical percentage (46.8) felt as though WannaCry was the most serious breach over the past year.

These numbers left us wondering: How can a cyberattack so severe be considered overhyped at the same time? Perhaps this points to tensions between media and security researchers. While the damage may have been a serious one (WannaCry impacted over 230,000 computers across 150 countries), researchers could be concerned about about how the attack was portrayed from a technical perspective by the media. Those of us closely following that particular cycle will remember how important it was to sort through over-hyped speculations vs. actual facts.

Let’s Get Together

On the media front, we kept our spokespeople busy, whether it was an exchange with NBC’s Alyssa Newcomb on election hacking or a video Q&A on application security with CSO’s Fahmida Rashid. In total, our agency secured more than 80 media briefings for our clients, fostering new and existing relationships and giving them a platform to share their story. While Highwire we build relationships via phone and email for our clients, there really is not substitute for actual, 1:1 facetime with a journalist.

All in all, Black Hat was an important investment for us and our clients, and we’re already kicking things into gear for the next big show…which is RSA 2018 in 244 days. But hey, who’s counting?

Decoding Black Hat and DEF CON: A Visual Guide

Hackers descend on Las Vegas this month for Black Hat (July 22-27 at Mandalay Bay) and DEF CON (July 27-30 at Caesars Palace). Both events are opportunities to discuss the latest and greatest in IT security – whether it’s a new vulnerability discovered by threat researchers, or demoing a real-world hack, the Black Hat conference is gaining widespread popularity for today’s hacker.

The conference presents an opportunity for IT security pros looking for ways to protect their networks and gear, software and solutions vendors offering approaches to address security challenges, organizations recruiting talent, and reporters covering the scene, to all come together in one place.

The intensity of the discussions, the intent to recruit, and the concentration of security pros and researchers sharing best practices spotlights widespread networking activities. Often the trickiest part of the week is finding a quiet place to talk. Needless to say, there is a lot going on — thankfully, Highwire PR’s IT security practice offers a visual guide to the week, pointing out especially attractive networking venues, conference-organized activities and other promising social events.

 

Blackhat infographic map July 18 revised

 

It’s no surprise that security venues such as Black Hat, DEF CON, Security BSides and the RSA Conference (which took place earlier this year) continue to attract record numbers of attendees. Organizations and consumers are eager to learn about how to protect themselves and their peers given the seemingly endless inundation of IT attacks and data breaches.

Several Highwire PR members will be on site in Las Vegas during the week of Black Hat and DEF CON — supporting our clients and mingling with the press, all while keeping an ear to the ground on breaking news. Interested in our take on this year’s 2017 Black Hat and DEF CON – let us know!

Three Tips for Effective Industry Analyst Relations

While communications strategies have changed dramatically over the years, industry analysts remain an important part of a technology company’s marketing mix. Analysts provide a third-party view of a company’s innovation and approach to their respective market. Since they are close to technology buyers, they understand how vendor marketing messages will resonate with buyers. Highwire PR offers advice on the very latest technology analyst relations best practices, based on our work for clients and a conversation with Beth Hespe, Corporate Communications Manager at Ixia, a seasoned pro with her hands in both AR and PR.

Consider the Full Analyst World

When the topic of analyst relations comes up in conversations, the first names mentioned are always Gartner and Forrester. Both of these firms can be considered industry behemoths as they undoubtedly have the greatest mindshare across nearly every vertical. Businesses end-user organizations leverage these firms for their unmatched industry visibility and deep-rooted strategic market understanding. Gartner analysts alone take up to 250,000 client inquiries every year.

A contract buys you direct feedback on customer pain points and product needs and have an analyst as your advocate to recommend your product to potential buyers. As it relates to overall market understanding, Gartner’s annual Magic Quadrant Report and Forrester’s annual Wave Report are touted as industry gold standards. Finding your way into the correct quadrant of one of these reports can do wonders for your business.

At the same time, while Gartner and IDC both can provide a significant amount of value to organizations, they should only be part of a company’s analyst relations mix. Before solidifying marketing budgets, startups and established companies alike should consider additional firms, many with specific industry expertise, that can help guide their marketing efforts.

IDC is unique in providing market sizing data. 451 Group and Enterprise Strategy Group are known for investigating the intersection of different emerging technology areas. Within security, market-specific firms such as Securosis have their pulse on the specific needs of IT security buyers. Seemingly obvious but often forgotten, the benefits of smaller firms are more direct access to the analysts for inquiry calls, and — what we consider to be the biggest value add — media influencer and PR support. Analysts are often willing to provide a quote for a press release or speak to the media about the benefits of your new product release. It’s not uncommon to see them quoted in trade press.

Don’t Forget the Basics

Beth Hespe at Ixia notes a few important best practices for ongoing analyst relations programs:

  • Planning & Coordination – Build in the time to target and secure your analysts, brief them and work with them. And make sure they’re available – nothing is worse than having your analyst on vacation during your launch and unavailable for interviews.
  • Leverage Your Efficiencies – Leverage efficiencies by scheduling campaigns in conjunction with a high profile industry event when target media, analysts and potential customers are in one place and at one time.
  • Consider Providing Customer Access – Consider customers and whether they’re available. Getting your customers together with your analysts and then as press references can provide extra validation that your campaign needs.

Marry AR, PR and Marketing

Hespe also notes how an analyst relations program can impact PR and marketing, and she challenges herself to find ways to integrate the efforts, leveraging analysts for more than just their traditionally thought of services. She uses them for quotes, supporting documents like white papers and blogs, events such as webinars and roundtables, large-scale surveys, and social support such as Twitter Q&A’s or videos. While some of these can be a substantial investment, you can leverage one analyst or firm to bundle your packages and ultimately save money.

At most organizations, those managing analyst relations and public relations often find themselves working under the same larger marketing umbrella; however, there are instances when these two teams operate in silos, with little contact. As the media landscape evolves, journalists’ and analysts’ roles increasingly meld together and the need for PR and AR to work in tandem becomes imperative. Especially as analysts roles morph into what can be considered “journ-analysts”(a type of influencer) who share their own opinions over Twitter or contribute articles to media outlets on a regular basis.

A truly successful marketing and communications program will bring forth strategic elements from both traditional PR and AR initiatives. If you’re not sure where to start, your PR firm often has insight and past experience to guide you.

5 Ways to Get More Mileage from Your Tweets

Social Content That’s Irresistible to Tweet

Is Twitter really dying? If you’re in marketing and communications, you’ve probably heard the rumor going around for some time. Even the recent elections and Trump’s penchant for 3 a.m. tweets seemingly failed to reignite user growth for Twitter. In fact, it only grew by 2 million users worldwide in its fourth quarter (with no growth in the U.S.) — compare that to the new 72 million users Facebook garnered over the same period.

But it’s no time to fret. Last year, Twitter repositioned itself as a news platform according to its blog. It’s less for sharing baby pictures and more to share current world and industry events. Less to track someone’s birthday, more to track when your favorite artist finally released their latest single.

Seeing Twitter this way changes the game entirely and makes it clear that there is still a place for Twitter in brand awareness and marketing. I recently heard the bright minds behind Andrew and Pete (@andrewandpete) at Social Media Marketing World (SMMW ’17) in San Diego, who understood this nuance and wanted to help everyone create content that was irresistible to the Twitter-verse.

Their high level message was that Twitter is often misused, giving the impression that it’s failing. But it’s not Twitter’s fault. We should stop falling for the usual suspects we think may lead to success. Don’t blog about everything, don’t promote tweets expecting instant ROI, don’t pin just any tweet, don’t hashtag everything, don’t use automation for all your processes — the list goes on.  

The problem with Twitter is that it’s become spammy and automated. It’s a nuisance. In 2017, we’ll have to break through this barrier to effectively use and create re-tweetable content.

Here are 5 ways to get more mileage from your tweets:

  • Focus on Brand Advocacy: It’s important to remember that some people share your content simply because they like you. When fostering brand advocates, do personal things for key followers. This could be done by replying with a personal DM or video message from a brand account. For instance, Indian Motorcycles effectively engaged a customer by reposting a customer’s image and then going as far as paying a month’s bike payment. The customer became a brand ambassador for life. In the end, it’s about questions that lead to conversations, which then foster relationships and sales.
  • Be Emotional: We need to stop using social platforms mechanically and think about the emotions you can evoke purposely. Twitter may be full of bots, but it doesn’t mean you and your followers should be the same. The goal is to avoid being “vanilla” by providing emotionally arousing content — think gifs, images, video, etc. You want your followers to react to your content.
  • Quantify Coolness: Social Currency! Social media heavily revolves around how the retweeter would look like when they repost content. Think about brands like Dos XX, Red Bull or Chubbies, whose entire marketing scheme is more about the message and activity than the product itself. No one posts something they think will paint them in a negative light. So reverse engineer this process and make people feel cool.
  • Align with a Cause: Aligning your brand with a broader cause or message consumers are passionate about could be a boon for sales. Think Dove commercials or Always’ Run Like a Girl campaign for video. On Twitter, Uber took on drunk driving with its #LeaveTheKeys hashtag, which essentially translates to #BookAnUber. But remember, it has to be REAL and RELEVANT to your target demographic.
  • A Compilation of Greatest Hits: Ultimately, all the strategy in the world will be for naught if the caliber of the content is subpar. The more useful, the more shares you are going to get. In essence, every single piece of content should be GREAT! Generating a constant stream of high-value content can sound daunting, but it can be simpler than you think. It doesn’t even have to be about your product or service. Instead, it can focus on helping solve the problems your target consumer demographic is facing or just simply entertain them. Think of all those great memes and one-liners Taco Bell has been behind.

Why the Omnichannel Shopping Approach Will Prevail: Insights from Shoptalk 2017

jeff-sheldon-3232 (2)Jeff Bezos famously said, “the customer is always right.” Today’s customers are more connected, agile and willing to try a new site or way of shopping if it means they can get a better deal or experience.

At Shoptalk 2017 traditional retailers and e-commerce giants showed how they are adapting to appeal to today’s and tomorrow’s consumers.

Here are three trends that were on the top of the agenda at Shoptalk:

Brick-and-Mortar Retailers Stepping Up Their Game

Although physical stores are struggling, consumers still want the benefits that come with shopping in-person. Retailers have gotten the message: customers demand innovation and the “same old” won’t work. Kohl’s is trying smaller store formats instead of closing stores that are not performing well. For the time-crunched customer, Target is redesigning 600 suburban stores to include multiple entrances, self-checkout lanes, online order counters and groceries at the front for quick trips. Walmart is launching Store No. 8, a Silicon Valley tech incubator focused on retail innovations in robotics, augmented reality, machine learning and AI.

Shop with Your Voice Or Your Favorite Social Platform

After a trial with 20 brands, Instagram is opening its shopping feature to all fashion, apparel, jewelry and skincare brands using commerce platforms Shopify and BigCommerce. With more than 600 million active users and 5 million business profiles, Instagram could overtake Pinterest to become the leader in driving e-commerce on social platforms.

For those who still want to shop locally, no worries! Google Home’s new assistant feature can determine in-store availability of products with details like sizes and prices, as well as provide store hours and travel directions.

Even e-Commerce Has to Change

Although Amazon was the leading e-commerce retailer in 2016 with more than $79 million in U.S. sales, there is still room for improvement.

 The everything store is testing a brand registry to assure vendors that intellectual property will be protected and counterfeit goods will be prevented. Any brand can register its logo and other intellectual property with Amazon starting next month. With this brand registry, both customers and the company will be able to flag counterfeit items.

To compete with Amazon Prime and its one-day shipping, eBay’s new summer program will guarantee delivery on more than 20 million items in three days or less. If a package is late, buyers can either receive credit, a refund on shipping or return the item at no cost. eBay already has a counterfeit refund program in place. As long as the knockoff item is disposed of, the company will refund both the shipping and the item’s price.

Overall, Shoptalk gave us great insight into the future of shopping for online, in-store, in-app and everywhere else.

Client Experts on the Future of Security

IoT, AI, Offense and (Cyber)Insurance

We are in the midst of a thrilling time in which many of our technological aspirations, from autonomous cars to highly advanced computing devices that fit comfortably in our pockets, are a practical reality. But along with the enhanced capabilities offered to businesses and individuals, comes increased risk.

For instance, IoT technology has helped create devices reminiscent of HAL 9000—but, much like the film character, it can be subject to major flaws. Fortunately, direct physical harm hasn’t been caused yet, but 2017 will surely be the year that cybersecurity stops being a news novelty to becomes a well-understood norm by all. The year to come is the year “cybersecurity” becomes just “security,” for even those outside the industry.

Taking from our all-star security client lineup, here’s what our experts are expecting in the year to come.

 

Affecting Trust

The savviest attackers are moving away from just data theft to targeting data integrity. Longer standing, reputational damage is becoming more common, especially in cases where the involvement of a nation-state is suspected. We’ve already seen these kinds of attacks in M&A scenarios with the Yahoo breaches and during the presidential election.

This kind of attack will continue to gain traction, especially within industries that rely on public confidence like medical facilities and financial institutions. Governments may also fall victim to attacks to spur on distrust in national institutions and processes (e.g. alleged Russian involvement in the presidential election).

Cyber Insurance Matures

Amid the slew of unmanageable threats, organizations will likely continue to increasingly take advantage of cybersecurity insurance. As the underwriting market responds, we can expect the due diligence requirements for underwriting to bolster greater spending on security controls. As such, we can expect security product purchasing decisions to be driven by cyber-insurance companies.

Expect cyber-insurance organizations to develop short lists of vendors and products that must be deployed to be compliant for insurance. CSO/CISOs will be asked by CFOs for these products and purchases may be directed top down if they’re lacking. We can also expect more vendors to offer guarantees and/or their own insurance offerings.

 

Finally Sifting Through Troves of Data

Machine learning and AI have recently come to the forefront across industries for good reason. Human’s cannot parse and make sense of all the data being generated today. Human’s simply can’t scale, work as long or be as detailed oriented like a well crafted and intelligent program, so expect further investments in neural networks and smart technology.

A caveat is that machine learning and AI will also be used for nefarious purposes. Hackers often mimic the same models as their targets for unlawful tools and distribution, often protected by the anonymity of the dark web. Just like machine learning algorithms sift through threat alerts, criminals will start using it to parse the troves of data they steal. Moreover, smart strains for malware (e.g polymorphic and metamorphic) have already entered the scene, capable of intelligently evading detection and even changing is composition to do so.

What do you think we have in store for the year to come?

If you’d like to here more from our experts, join us at Highwire’s third annual RSA Happy Hour—this time in conjunction with the Christian Science Monitor’s security vertical, Passcode, which will conducting live podcast interviews with some our experts.

 

CES 2017: Top Trends, Tips and Tricks

CES 2017

CES 2017 showed us that IoT, autonomous vehicles and artificial intelligence are still major conversation drivers.

What were the big trends of CES 2017? IoT, autonomous vehicles and artificial intelligence. This year we saw exciting advancements, especially in the IoT. And let’s not forget Alexa, the technology that stole everyone’s hearts. Here are some of the biggest trends we saw this year and the products behind them:

IoT Finally Connects the Dots

For the past few years, IoT devices have dominated the show floor at CES, but this is the first year we saw IoT products actually working together. A novel thought, no? This has always been the vision of IoT but instead of taking the next step in this “connected lifestyle” we’re trying to create, companies have crowded the market with new devices. The amount of integrations we saw with Alexa this year was a bit overwhelming, but it signals we might finally be going in the right direction. Yes, there are still hurdles to jump in IoT– particularly security and interoperability, but CES 2017 demonstrated we’re off to a good start.

Diversity Takes a Front Seat

Diversity has been a hot button topic in the tech space for years, with the criticism of low diversity growth hovering above companies from Google to Microsoft. But CES 2017 proved that we’re taking steps to combat this issue as an industry. A number of female-founded companies presented devices and gadgets geared towards women, including CEO Naomi Kelman of Willow, with a smart breast pump that slides into a nursing mother’s bra and allows for hands free pumping as well as Lea von Bidder of Ava and its fertility-tracking wristband.

The Consumer-Enterprise Crossover

The most impactful products — ones like standout star Amazon Alexa — will not solely be marketed or made for consumer-use, but will begin to offer enterprise use cases, as well. We saw this back in November, when Atlassian ecosystem partner, SoftServe, built out a function to allow Alexa to work with Atlassian’s HipChat platform. We will continue to see this trend as IoT evolves. After all, what worker doesn’t want a personal assistant?

Capturing the Media’s Attention

Whether you’re touting a veteran crowd pleaser or a break out star, the biggest obstacle at CES is getting in front of the right people. For companies attending the show this year, the timing was very difficult. Many members of the media arrived days before it started and left after the first day. But good news! The show dates are a week later: CES 2018 will be held January 9-12 (Tuesday to Friday), which gives us all an extra week to plan. With that in mind, we’ve put together a few tips for rising above the noise:

 

  • Start early: Start pitching press meetings and demos ahead of the show to shrink the competitive landscape. Press are grateful because they often find the show too large to see everything they want. The earlier you can get a product on a journalist’s radar, the better.
  • Pre-shows, pre-shows, pre-shows:  Pepcom, Showstoppers and CES Unveiled are simple solutions for presenting your product to press in an intimate venue. They quiet the noise of CES’s thirty-two thousand plus exhibitors and allow journalists to focus on your product.
  • Get on your feet: Don’t wait for journalists to find you. With over 170,000 attendees, most journalists can’t get through the entirety of CES, even in a full week’s time. You have to find them. Gather a portable version of your product and hit the aisles yourself!

 

Post co-authored by Stephanie Burke, Senior Account Executive, New York

Stephanie Burke is a senior account executive at Highwire PR. Stephanie supports corporate, consumer and enterprise technology clients, with an emphasis on campaign planning, media relations and events execution. From tech startups to today’s biggest brands, Stephanie supports and leads a variety of campaigns focused on building credibility and awareness of both products and brands.

 

 

Three Trends You’ll See at AWS re:Invent 2016

DevOps, machine learning and global architecture to be key conference trends

Las Vegas skyline at night

Under Armour uses the AWS cloud platform to give more than 180 million users access to its  Connected Fitness platform. Airbnb can store 10 terabytes of user photos with Amazon S3 to house backups and static files. Atlassian deploys its wildly popular HipChat and Bitbucket platforms on it. What do these companies have in common? They all use products from the AWS ecosystem to make their companies more efficient.

With over 24,000 projected attendees, this year’s AWS re:Invent will bring together companies from all over the world to learn more about the organization’s ecosystem and what to look for in 2017.

From Amazon CloudWatch to Amazon GameLift, this conference will have over 400 technical sessions led by industry leaders and AWS partners.

With all this going on, what should you be sure not to miss?

Three trends to watch out for at this conference are DevOps, machine learning and global architecture. Check out our analysis below to help understand how these trends will shape 2017.

DevOps

  • The USA Today description:
    • DevOps encourages communication, collaboration and integration between software developers and IT operations — two business units that have traditionally functioned independently. DevOps is a combination of philosophies, practices and tools to increase the agility of a company’s processes and software development cycle.
  • Why does it matter?
    • DevOps creates a more effective and personalized customer experience, innovates existing software more reliably and accelerates the software delivery cycle. That means faster processes, better service and happier customers.
  • What to expect at AWS re:Invent:
    • Look out for a fireside chat with Groupon, Intuit and LifeLock, as well as a breakout session with AOL on the challenges in providing next-generation applications. These companies are ready to talk about how implementing a DevOps model will protect your company from the competition leading into 2017.  
  • AWS Ecosystem Spotlight, Atlassian:
    • Atlassian Bamboo enables teams to collaborate, build software and serve their customers better. The continuous delivery tool offers strong integrations with AWS for teams to produce software in short cycles that can be built, tested and released faster and more frequently.

Machine Learning

  • The USA Today description:
  • Why does it matter?
    • Machine learning algorithms can be trained over time to make intelligent recommendations for a variety of applications. Machine learning can help with everything from facial recognition, fraud detection and even more accurate medical diagnoses. Ultimately, machine learning will save businesses time and money while delivering a higher quality of service to customers.
  • What to expect at AWS re:Invent:
    • The financial services industry and security functions are going to take the spotlight at re:Invent with use cases in fraud detection and security automation that any company can implement on the AWS platform.

Global (Enterprise) Architecture

  • The USA Today description:
    • Global architecture is a way of building a company’s IT hardware and strategy to support global growth from the beginning. This means solving a broader set of requirements and challenges than other companies that exclusively look domestically.
  • Why does it matter?
    • Running a nationwide IT operation is difficult, but global IT is even more complicated to support. Any company looking to operate globally can expect more pressures, especially related to the availability and quality of service. It’s important for companies to keep this in mind before tackling an international expansion.
  • What to expect at AWS re:Invent:
    • Netflix will present on its journey of failure, innovation and ubiquity as it scaled globally. The session will dive into the architectural patterns that support the streaming giant.

Highwire Talks Security with Black Hat Communications Director

Blackhat 2016 event logo

 

One of the biggest global security events in the world, Black Hat has been providing attendees with the latest in research for over 18 years. Participants can enjoy learning from information security luminaries about various developments and trends in the industry. As you think about how to present new or interesting perspective this year, take a look at our survey findings from last year’s Black Hat, particularly the part about overused buzzwords, as you may want to eliminate some of the most commonly used jargon from your content.

With the event fast approaching on July 30, Highwire took the opportunity to speak with Meredith Corley, director of PR & communications for UBM—the company that puts on Black Hat every year—to gain some insider knowledge that will prove useful for PR professionals and security companies.

Q: What is the number one strategy you can offer companies as they prepare to pitch media at Black Hat?

A: Remember that these members of the media and analyst community are the crème de la crème of the InfoSec reporting world—so do your research! And I don’t just mean on their specific beat, that’s a given. My research advice is the following:

1) Pitch the Goods: With so much dynamic content on stage, running alongside big research report releases and innovative product launches from the show floor (all vying for their attention & time slots), now is not the time to do a generic email blast. Before you work to set up that briefing or meetup, ask yourself: How does this news break the mold, challenge the status quo or take our industry in a new direction? With a product launch, how specifically will your new product or service solve an existing problem or void? Any cool demos to share? Alternatively how will your perspective help dig into an existing industry hot button issue or theme with a fresh (or challenging) perspective? Are you offering up special access to key thought leaders or research? Is there a new finding that will change the course of the current dialogue?

If you can’t answer these with an elevator pitch before pressing ‘send’ on that email, hold off. Media get a ton of email leading up to the show, so make it count.

2) Expand Your International Contacts: Does your company have international roots or hope to take their products and services global? Don’t forget to research the many international members of the media that join us onsite every year. We have massive news agencies, trade journals and analysts join us from as far as Australia,  many parts of Asia, Europe, S. America and everywhere in between. Now is your chance to build those valuable relationships with key international stakeholders for your brand all in one place. Don’t miss out.

Q: How do you select which companies get their own mini press conferences in the Black Hat press room?

A: We work closely with the Black Hat Review Board and journalist community to get a sense of what is really going to be “hot” onsite—big themes, impactful vulnerability disclosures, big name speakers or government officials, and controversial topics discussed by distinguished resources.

Press conferences are highly selective and are typically reserved for Black Hat speakers that will be presenting during the show. Sometimes we will group them by theme (e.g. “mobile vulnerabilities”) while other times it will be a solo session (e.g. keynote presentation or completely unique topic that stands apart from the rest).

If your company or client is speaking at Black Hat this year and you think the topic fits the bill, drop us a note: BlackHatPR@ubm.com.

Q: What do you think the top trends will be at this year’s show based on what you’re seeing across the top sessions and/or media requests?

A: Aside from the headline-making and completely unique vulnerabilities and research (a lá car hacks, new ways to take over ATMs, and medical device weaknesses and defense), I would say that one of the top trends this year is what we collectively call “Platform Security.” We also saw more submissions than ever around vulnerabilities (and defenses) in top operating systems and virtual machines.

Unsurprisingly, Internet of Things (IoT) is also a big theme again this year as everything we know becomes increasingly “smart.”

Also, talks this year really run the gamut—and they should, since we received more submissions this year than any year prior. The Review Board really had their work cut out for them to pick the best of the best. There are quite a few great enterprise system-related briefings, some really smart research across all things mobile, and even a whole track of talks in the “human factors” category, which covers everything from phishing to the actual success rates of malicious actors dropping USBs in parking lots to name a few.

Q: Anything new or different taking place at the show this year that we should know about?

A: Glad you asked—Yes!

New to Black Hat? If you, your team members or your client(s) are newbies to Black Hat, we’ve got you covered. ALL pass types are invited to join us for Black Hat Day Zero —a first-timer’s guide to making the most of Black Hat. Here, new attendees can come a day early (Tuesday, Aug. 2) to learn what to expect on site, how to make the most of their time and even how to keep their devices safe on the show network. (Don’t forget your tinfoil hat…) There will be a welcome reception for some good mingling after the sessions.

Closing the Gap: Despite more attention to the issue, the needle just hasn’t moved all that much on the dramatic underrepresentation of women and minorities in the security industry, even as the talent gap deepens. I would encourage you and your colleagues to check out this fantastic panel, “Removing Roadblocks to Diversity,” on Thursday, Aug. 4, with a pretty stellar lineup. It includes moderator Kelly Jackson Higgins, executive editor of Dark Reading, with Jamesha Fisher, security operations engineer at GitHub; Elena Kvochko, head of global cyber security strategy and implementation at Barclays; Angie Leifson, security operations center (SOC) analyst at Insight Enterprises; and Chenxi Wang, chief strategy officer of Twistlock.

**Tip: this is first-come, first-served—so get there a little early to reserve a seat.

Other neat new and exciting things on site include a hands-on Kali Linux Lab for ALL pass types on Thursday, Aug. 4. And I’d highly recommend checking out the Black Hat Arsenal if you’re looking for real-time demos—this year marks the largest tool lineup yet with 80 to be presented on site.

Meredith Corley is the director, PR and communications, at UBM Americas. Find her on Twitter @MeredithCorley or LinkedIn.