The Five Big Themes I’ll Be Looking for Next Week at Black Hat

If there was one annual event that encapsulates cybersecurity, it’s Black Hat. For more than 20 years, thousands have gathered to learn security during the Black Hat training sessions and see cutting-edge research on display at the Black Hat Briefings. Black Hat has been doing this every year in Las Vegas since 1997. That’s right about the time enterprise data security started maturing into widespread practice. Over the years, the crowds have grown, and so has the importance of data security. 

Every year at Black Hat, I try to keep an eye out for different trends. These are themes that I believe will be important and drive a lot of the conversation at the conference, not to mention the months that follow. Here’s what I’m looking at this year:

“ What piques my interest about insider threat isn’t just the number of attacks perpetrated by insiders; it’s about how damaging insiders can be to an organization. After all, insiders know where the data is and what data is valuable. ”

The insider threat

There have been several recent news stories that highlight insider threat and it’s no fluke that they dominate the news cycle. Insider threats are up 50 percent in the past four years alone. Recently, we learned about the McAfee employees who quit and were sued for allegedly taking intellectual property to a competitor. Then there was the SunPower exec who emailed himself highly sensitive trade secrets. And the Desjardin employee who accessed the data of nearly three million bank customers. Earlier this year, the Verizon Insider Threat Report found that 20 percent of cybersecurity incidents originated from trusted insiders and often went unnoticed for weeks, months, and even years. 

What piques my interest about insider threat isn’t just the number of attacks perpetrated by insiders; it’s about how damaging insiders can be to an organization. After all, insiders know where the data is and what data is valuable. I’ll be looking for lots of conversations in this area, and new insights into ways to better detect and respond to insider threats before IP is gone and the damage is done.

The increased importance of DevSecOps

The popularity of DevOps keeps growing. According to Allied Market Research, the global market for DevOps tools was nearly $3 billion in 2016 and is expected to reach over $9 billion by 2023 — growing at a healthy 19% annual clip. Yet, enterprises have a challenge when it comes to incorporating security into the DevOps application development and management processes. That’s what DevSecOps is all about. I think we’re going to hear some great advice and ways to maximize the incorporation of strong security practices into DevOps.

Insight into the emerging threat landscape

We always look toward finding a fresh perspective on the threat landscape at Black Hat. The conference presenters are always examining new attack methods in detail. This year will be no different, and I’m expecting to see interesting approaches to attacks via social media and insider threat exploits.

Latest trends in Zero Trust security

Zero Trust has moved from buzzword to reality, but we’re just beginning to see organizations move beyond superficial Zero Trust implementations. I expect the conversations around Zero Trust, a concept of security centered on the belief that companies shouldn’t trust anyone or anything inside or outside their perimeters, and instead must verify and monitor anything and everything trying to access company data, to become more meaningful and results-based. This will continue to be an interesting and compelling topic in the months following Black Hat.

A deep look inside a few interesting security vulnerabilities

At Black Hat, if you don’t make it to a few sessions where they dive deep into a security flaw or exploit, you’re really missing out. These sessions are eye-opening, heart-stopping, and mind-jarring to see. It opens your eyes to the ways in which people make new inroads to devices, hack into large enterprises, and leverage vulnerable software to do it silently.

I’m also going to keep a lookout for new buzzwords and emerging attack trends. For instance, we already see the rapid rise of deepfake movies. And let’s face it, these videos are getting incredibly good, thanks to sophisticated algorithms that create unprecedented reality. Soon, we’ll have issues trusting our own eyes and ears and their ability to discern what is real. This will be fun to see take shape this year.  

Finally, we all know that the IT industry is increasingly turning to artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to help secure our increasingly complex environments. But when it comes to new security technologies, it’s a bit of a double-edged sword. What can be used for our defense can also be used to attack us. AI is no different, and in the near future, we’re going to see AI used more commonly to attack enterprises. AI-based attacks are on their way. You can count on it.