There has never been a more interesting or daunting time to be in security. We have the proliferation of connected devices and a digitally connected global economy, colliding with nation-state threat actors and concerns over consumer privacy. All of these trends are converging at a time when companies are struggling with how to detect and stop new threats, while the enterprise becomes more distributed and open than ever.
Here are three things that we think everyone will be talking about at this year’s Black Hat event:
1. The robots are here to help
There has been a lot of debate about the application of artificial intelligence to traditionally human tasks with the overwrought conclusion that machine learning-based applications will eventually displace people. Well we’re here to tell you that machine learning is the future — and it comes in peace.
There are a number of security technologies that could be dramatically improved if they applied machine learning to the mechanisms for detecting attacks and bad behavior, and stopping them before they happen. We can expect to hear more about the promise of machine learning at this year’s conference and throughout conversations in security for years to come. In fact, this topic has become so popular, we wouldn’t be surprised if there were a dedicated machine learning track at the conference.
At this point in security, people are figuring out that they can take the overall paradigm of machine learning and artificial intelligence to solve the real problems they’re faced with every day. Because Black Hat focuses on emerging science in computer security, rather than existing products and solutions, machine learning is a perfect fit for a conference focused on nascent technology.
2. My toaster just texted me
The past few years have been peak IoT hype and so it is no surprise that IoT now has its own dedicated track at Black Hat. With Amazon Echo and other connected devices now reaching mass adoption, we should start to see more exploration of the challenges companies will face. Such as securing billions of connected devices at a time when more and more people are also working from home, where connected toasters and Barbies can create security vulnerabilities on company devices.
Since this conference is about pushing boundaries, we predict we’ll hear about how to advance current IoT approaches and how to make IoT technology great. Even though there is a lot of low-hanging fruit when it comes to IoT, we should expect that the conversation will move past talking about single IoT device vulnerabilities and instead move to finding at-scale solutions.
Now pretty much anyone can make an internet-connected device — but not everyone can secure those devices. The kind of IoT devices we need right now are ones that have the best security knowledge incorporated into them, from the manufacturers. If devices like smart cars and smart fridges get hacked, that directly affects our family and personal safety. So it is crucial that we protect these connected devices. It’s time for us to elevate the conversation about IoT to meet their increasing security needs.
3. The next Apple v. FBI
With so much rapid change in security, there are a lot of people trying to regulate research for new technology, like driverless cars and drones. Especially in light of Apple’s battle with the Federal Bureau of Investigation earlier this year, this is an area that has been heating up lately and should be discussed at Black Hat.
The security community is deeply divided when it comes to security policy and legislation. Some want the government to step in and keep a check on things, but others couldn’t disagree more and want legislation as far away as possible. Because of debates like those that Apple’s battle brought up and how enmeshed our lives have become with technology, security legislation will only become more prevalent in both security and national discussions.
Can machine learning help us secure the Internet of Things? Will government policy impact law enforcement’s attempts to crack a connected device as part of an investigation?
This year’s Black Hat promises yet again to be filled with interesting discussions and debates focused on advancing the future of security. We can’t wait to see what that future holds and how we can all work together to create a more secure world.