Black Hat USA 2022 conference stage

“Unmasking” the Black Hat Conference


Have you ever asked, what is Black Hat? Unlike other technology conferences and the people that attend them, Black Hat is a conference that attracts a unique group of people who sees problems in the world differently than most of us. But for those picturing a bunch of young guys wearing hoodies, and anonymous masks, while avoiding personal conversation, let me “unmask” who I met.

What is Black Hat? 

Black Hat is a cyber security conference that tends to have a slough of attendees that get a kick out of using script kitties to hack noobs like me. And, of course, careless attendees leaving their devices open to vulnerabilities and compromise. (I brought a burner!)

As a technology generalist, my mind isn’t focused the same way a true security professional would be. The InfoSec/CyberSec is fascinating, and I keep myself appraised on 3 Tree Tech cyber security developments, but could I tell you how to gain access into the mysterious world of the DarkWeb? No. Can I teach you how to exploit an indicator of compromise (IOC) to gain privileged access to someone’s system? Not at all. So, this conference was eye-opening for me.

Black Hat 2022 Conference exhibitor floor
Black Hat 2022 Conference exhibitor floor

Who attends Black Hat?

At the conference, I met men and women that have been in infosec before it was an industry. Some attendees came out of cryptography, others as IT relics sucked into the infosec world as if it were a pit of quicksand. Some have a love for infosec and the game of beating an adversary, others feel a calling to protect the innocent from bad actors. Regardless of the background and starting point, all Black Hat attendees possess a mind that thinks about the world via hidden layers of reality their peers in technology overlook. They’re also a diverse bunch. 

Eric Skeens of 3 Tree Tech (right).
Eric Skeens of 3 Tree Tech (right).

Black Hat attendees represent a wide spectrum of humanity. Many security professionals are musical geniuses. Apparently, the complexity of musical composition parallels one’s navigation through indications of compromise or advanced threats. Others are drawn to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu due to the shared nature a practitioner patiently and methodically conquers and forces an opponent to submit. A security professional doesn’t just employ a security mind in cyber—they employ a security mindset to all facets of their life.

Bad actors disrupt our world through our tech dependence. Sometimes that disruption is for notoriety or political reasons, but more often than not, it is for money and power. Unfortunately, for most of us, we have no idea how to fight back on our own. It’s difficult because these criminals are invisible to us, living in the cyber world. Thankfully, the infosec professionals I spoke with at Black Hat apply the same diverse and creative mindset to level that playing field.

Entrance to the Black Hat 2022 event in Vegas
Entrance to the Black Hat 2022 event in Vegas

What happens at Black Hat?

It was an honor to pick the brains of Black Hat attendees and rub shoulders with, InfoSec professionals. <Checks for bugs> At 3 Tree Tech, I’ve watched this industry finally get the recognition it deserves, as the average worker begins to understand how cybersecurity is intertwined into all aspects of business and their life. 

Whereas in the past, InfoSec would find itself as a subset underneath IT, cyber security expertise is now being recognized as a necessity at the board level. It’s no longer an afterthought to other technology budgets. There is a lot of work to be done in cyber security, but I am thankful we are a part of it and in some instances, help further the cause. 

Eric Skeens of 3 Tree Tech

Eric Skeens is the co-founder of 3 Tree Tech in Portland. He is a platform-agnostic tech researcher that transitions siloed organizations into automated DevOps centric businesses. Message him right here.

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