Black Hat 2012 Kicks Off With Email Kerfuffle


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Black Hat is hosting its 15th annual security conference in Las Vegas this week against a backdrop of widespread security breaches, Stuxnet, Flame, and other high profile exploits that have recently been in the news.

More than 6,500 members of the IT security community, including vendor representatives, channel partners, academics, government employees, researchers and underground types, are gathering for a week's worth of discussions and exhibits around products, services, and a host of vulnerabilities that range from garden variety PC attacks to global cyber espionage.

The conference kicked off on Sunday with a security question of its own when approximately 7,500 people received an email to support password changes to their Black Hat accounts. The URL was not one that was immediately familiar, leading to extensive traffic on social media sites as attendees speculated about a likely phishing attempt, a social engineering attack, or potentially just an attempt at humor, given the backgrounds of the attendees. But a few hours later, Black Hat organizers issued an apologetic blog post indicating that the emails had been accidentally sent by a legitimate contractor.

"We have reviewed the server logs, we know the user, host, and have spoken with the volunteer who has emailed each of you this morning," the post read. "We are happy to report there are no signs of compromise. The email this morning was an abuse of functionality by a volunteer who has been spoken to. This feature has since been removed as a precautionary measure."

[Related: The 10 Coolest Security Startups Of 2012 (So Far]

Topics of discussion at this week's event are expected to include threats to the air traffic control network, smart meters and the power grid, "black ops," legal aspects of cyberspace operations, vulnerabilities in the Apple operating system, and other threats and vulnerabilities in various Web-based applications and tools.

Keynote speakers include historical/science fiction author Neal Stephenson, and Shawn Henry, former FBI executive assistant director and currently president of CrowdStrike Services.

To commemorate its 15th anniversary, Black Hat is also presenting five of the speakers who presented at the inaugural event in 1998. Jeff Moss, Bruce Schneier, Marcus Ranum, Adam Shostack, and Jennifer Granick will participate in a panel discussion that focuses on the next 15 years of information security.

Black Hat is produced by UBM TechWeb, a sister company to CRN publisher UBM Channel.

PUBLISHED JULY 23, 2012

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