Ideas fresh off the wire

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.