Black Hat 2008: Notes from the field

The day before it begins, a thousand or so people are working through the kinks of an expanded version of the annual security conference.

Robert Vamosi Former Editor
As CNET's former resident security expert, Robert Vamosi has been interviewed on the BBC, CNN, MSNBC, and other outlets to share his knowledge about the latest online threats and to offer advice on personal and corporate security.
Robert Vamosi
2 min read

LAS VEGAS--This year marks my ninth year of attending Black Hat in Las Vegas. From a small gathering of security professionals in 2000 to an uberconference in 2008, Black Hat has scaled well. And the transition from private company to corporate-owned also appears smooth. But hardly anyone's here yet.

On Tuesday, there are only a thousand or so attendees of the 30-some training sessions. Already I've noticed a few minor changes from last year.

The press room is now on the third floor, away from the maddening crowds. This may or may not work since almost all the sessions are on the fourth floor. So far the escalators have been jammed during breaks and it will only get worse as Black Hat ramps up.

Lunch, served in a tent located in the front of Caesar's Palace, is now buffet as opposed to being a serviced meal. This gives quicker access to the food (no more waiting until everyone at your table had finished a course before the next course was served). However the buffet itself (at least four different food stations) also removed a good chunk of tables and seats. By my count only one thousand people can eat at one time.

To accommodate the rest of us, Black Hat is also serving boxed lunches on the third floor. My lunch ticket is for a boxed lunches. I suspect that vendors and press will be shunted into the cold box-lunch room.

There are about 30 vendors set up across from the Augustus ballrooms. Last year it was impossible to move from session to session without bumping into the vendor tables. While this year's location is better, it's still not ideal. Perhaps next year Black Hat will simply shunt the vendors into a separate room. Those who want to chit-chat with the vendors can do so, while the rest of us get to our sessions unimpeded.

The hall for Dan Kaminsky's DNS talk seems too small. Maybe they'll simulcast it on jumbo screens in the hallway. We'll see on Wednesday.

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