Black Hat USA 2020 Goes Virtual: What to Expect


It should come as no surprise that Black Hat USA 2020 is translating its world-renowned conference to a virtual format this year. While we’re a little sad we won’t be able to attend in person this August 1–6, we’re excited to see what Black Hat has to offer in its virtual setting. There are some great training opportunities, research briefings, and of course, virtual networking you can access from the safety of your living room. CyberSN leaders and staff have been attending since 2014 and this year will be there (virtually) too.

As you prepare for Black Hat USA 2020, we’ve got the details on what to expect from the new, virtual format and the sessions you shouldn’t miss. Your time is valuable; here’s how to get the most out of this premier hacking event and find the best cybersecurity insights.

How Black Hat USA 2020 Will Work

Transitioning a conference to a virtual format without losing any of the camaraderie of an in-person event is impossible. While there will be lost opportunities to meet new people because there's no in-person networking, there are still the many sessions where you can gain new skills and knowledge. We’ll explore those more in the rest of this post.

From what we’re seeing, Black Hat 2020 has been designed to provide the same content and collaboration opportunities that it always has—it’s just all online. This includes plenty of video conferencing, so be sure to get your webcam in good working order.

Black Hat Pass Types

The most comprehensive event pass is the Briefings Pass, which gives attendees full access to all briefings, the Business Hall, Arsenal open-source tool demos, and additional features. It’s for those who want to network with other cybersecurity professionals and get a first look at the latest infosec research and news.

There’s also a free basic pass, called the Business Pass, that provides access to the Business Hall, Arsenal, sponsored sessions, and sponsored workshops. If you’re not planning on attending any of the research briefings, this is a great way to save money while still “attending” the conference. You can still separately purchase training sessions even if you get a free Business Pass, so you won’t miss out on any education opportunities should you spot one.

Black Hat Training Sessions

Black Hat training covers crypto, data forensics, malware, risk, and much more. One of the best parts about Black Hat is that content isn’t dumbed down. Each training varies in skill level and intensity, so you can pick one that best meets your needs and interests. There’s plenty of opportunity to dig deep into a topic area.

The organizers of Black Hat 2020 have wisely limited the number of available seats to ensure attendees get the most out of each session and there’s time for one-on-one discussions. It’s a great opportunity to build connections and develop your skill set, and we highly recommend taking time to explore all sessions available before signing up—make sure you register ahead of time for the training you want.

Briefings to Attend

While there are over 90 different briefings scheduled during Black Hat 2020, a few stand out from the crowd:

EdTech—The Ultimate APT

Michelle Wolfe, an ex-teacher and privacy advocate, will use her briefing to highlight the potentially severe cybersecurity risks that schools and other educational institutions are facing as modern technology is widely adopted. Facial recognition technology, privacy issues, poor data storage, and the lack of informed consent will all be addressed in Michelle’s 40-minute session. Learn key questions to ask edtech vendors or educational institutions in order to ensure the privacy and security of students everywhere.

Attend EdTech—The Ultimate APT - Thursday, August 6 | 12:30 p.m.-1:10 p.m.

Making an Impact from India to the Rest of the World by Building and Nurturing Women InfoSec Community

Vandana Verma Sehgal, a security architect at IBM, will present on building diversity in India’s InfoSec community. Her goal is to create a “warm and nurturing environment for women where they can easily discuss information security and over a period of time moulded to help women, students, kids, and underprivileged communities to come forward and be part of the cybersecurity ecosystem.” Vandana is an incredibly accomplished cybersecurity professional who’s passionate about promoting women in infosec, and we can’t wait to attend this talk.

Attend Making an Impact from India - Thursday, August 6 | 10:00 a.m.-10:40 a.m.

Hacking Public Opinion

This keynote will cover a particularly relevant topic—online disinformation and its resulting interference in the 2020 election. Renee DiResta, a research manager from the Stanford Internet Observatory, will explain how large communities of people are being influenced and manipulated on social media platforms. Social media platforms are struggling to keep up with the wildfire of disinformation spread via their algorithms. This will be available on demand, so you can tune in whenever you have an hour to spare.

Attend Hacking Public Opinion - Available on demand

Whether you plan on attending for the entire week or tune in for a couple of days, Black Hat USA 2020 will still be a valuable experience for cybersecurity professionals. Going virtual allows so many more to attend without the burden of travel. We’re interested to see if this format—or some aspects of it—are here to stay.

The CyberSN team will be attending sessions and you can check in via social media to stay in touch with us throughout the conference. We want to hear your thoughts on how Black Hat USA 2020 works virtually.