‘We’re not outsiders anymore’

LAS VEGAS Communication emerged as a key theme during the initial sessions of the 23rd annual Black Hat security conference, which opened its doors in Las Vegas today.

During his opening remarks at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, Black Hat and DEF CON founder Jeff Moss underlined the importance of communication – not just within the security community, but also in terms of how CISOs, pen testers, and network defenders communicate with those outside of the industry.

“A lot of past [opening] talks were about how it’s ‘our time’ now,” Moss said. “We wanted to get the attention of management, political leaders, the board.

“Now that we’ve got the attention, we’re struggling with what to do with it. The quality of our communication determines a lot of our outcomes.”

Jeff Moss

Moss added: “The language we use causes us to think about a problem in a certain way, which then leads us in a direction that we may or may not want to go in.”

The importance of communication was also raised in today’s keynote from Dino Dai Zovi, mobile security lead at Square – particularly when it comes to enacting positive security changes in an organization.

“We’re not outsiders anymore,” Zovi said. “We are inside the communities [and] organizations, and we need to think about how best to use that opportunity.”

Dino Dai Zovi delivered the Black Hat 2019 keynote

While there may be some way to go until all of the security industry’s communication problems are ironed out, both Moss and Zovi expressed some hope for the future.

“We might not all get each other or what we’re working on, but I think it’s that creativity, that energy, and our thirst to learn that’s really inspiring,” Moss said.

“When we do post-mortems at DEF CON, about 80% of problems we have are communication problems.”

“This gives me a lot of hope, because we can fix communications problems. We’re not inventing a new kind of math. But what we’re having to do is reorder the way in which we think about things and reorder the way in which we communicate things.

“Once we do that, you’ll see we will get completely different outcomes.”

Closing his keynote and signaling the start of infosec’s biggest annual gathering, Zovi said: “We need to engage the world starting with ‘yes’.

“It keeps the conversation going, it keeps the conversation collaborative. And that’s how we create real change and have real impact.”

Black Hat 2019 continues tomorrow. The Daily Swig will be back with more coverage.

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