LAS VEGAS— Sin City has the greatest density of surveillance cameras per square mile anywhere outside the Pentagon, and that fact makes Vegas an appropriate host for both Black Hat and Def Con, the yin and yang of information security conferences. The two have become the anchors for a collection of security events here every summer (including BsidesLV and PasswordsCon) that results in a week-long festival of infosec overload so scary, it's now even more frightening to use hotel Wi-Fi.
While Jeff Moss, aka "TheDarkTangent," is the founder of both Black Hat and Def Con, the two events have continued to diverge. This year, however, they carried a very similar message: security has reached a critical point, and the people gathered at both events have never been more relevant to society as a whole, for better or worse. "This is our moment right now," Moss said during the introduction of his Black Hat keynote. "When was the last time we were this relevant and this in demand? I would say during the dot com (boom)... but if you think about it, all you needed was green hair to get a job back then."
Moss challenged attendees at Black Hat to do something real in the coming year. "I have the sense that we don't have unlimited time," he warned. "If we're going to make some moves, we're going to have to make them soon." The message at Def Con was similar—a call to action in a world where state actors and other maleficent forces are taking advantage of an ever-growing number of vulnerabilities in systems ranging from mobile applications to "Internet of Things" devices. The looming threat of surveillance makes it increasingly difficult to live a private life.