October 17, 2017

Cyber Security Students Garner Industry Experience Working Hacker Conventions in Las Vegas

UAT Cyber Security students at Black Hat

The iconic Black Hat and DEF CON Conventions took over Vegas the week of July 30- Aug. 7, bringing swarms of hackers, from industry and other realms.

Attendees return each year for industry news, hacking, panels, training sessions, CTF challenges, parties, surprise events and more. Once again, UAT Cyber Security students and alumni worked as paid volunteers for the events providing help with network setup.

Over 60 UAT students and alumni worked behind the scenes at Black Hat and a few were also selected to work as DEF CON Goons. Students and alumni were put to work at Black Hat with tasks such as setting up the network, placing network cables down, setting up APs (access points or wifi connections), setting up switches and routers, setting up the Network Operations Command (NOC), crowd control, collecting completed documents, classroom presentation support, customer assistance and problem solving when needed.

Game Face at Black Hat

Game Face at Black Hat

Network Security Professor Al Kelly attended with a group of about 60 students and alumni from UAT.

A Black Hat Advisory Board official commented that UAT’s students were the “most energetic and helpful Conference Ambassador’s (CA) ever.” According to a CA Team Lead, “Students who were tasked with stuffing conference bags were able to pack 5,000 bags on on the first day, which beats the previous team by over 2,000 bags.”

Sarah Weydemuller, Program Manager, Trainings of Black Hat said, “The Black Hat Conference Associates play a vital role in achieving our goals of making Black Hat USA a successful community-driven event. It’s through the dedication of Conference Associates like the students and alumni at University of Advancing Technology (UAT) that our community becomes stronger and our event runs flawlessly. UAT students show that they take pride in their work, work effectively with others, present a positive attitude through their actions, and, most importantly, focus on the customers they serve – be they attendees, speakers, or vendors. Black Hat acknowledges the dedication and commitment of the Black Hat USA 2016 Conference Associates and would like to express our heartfelt thanks to them for their contribution which helped make Black Hat USA 2016 the most robust show – both in size and content – in its 19-year history.”

Thanks to UAT’s Russ Rogers, UAT was the only university given the chance to volunteer at Black Hat. Professor Rogers manages the volunteers at both Black Hat and DEF CON, and therefore UAT held a massive presence at each event.

Alumni Angie Leifson had an opportunity to speak on a panel at Black Hat, “Removing Roadblocks to Diversity,” on her perspective as a female in a predominately male industry. Angie and UAT hope to change that. Watch Angie’s panel in the video below.

You will find that DEF CON is a little more edgy than Black Hat. DEF CON was created in 1993 by a core hacker group who wanted to explore and practice technology. Today, DEF CON’s audience is more diverse with corporate businesses and government types in attendance, as well. This event is more about the practice of hacking and finding new ways to infiltrate security. The security talks are a bit more edgy and may practice and discuss topics like vehicle hacking. This year Tesla held a car hack demo to see if anyone could hack into the car’s security system. Yes they were able to crack it, but Tesla was ready to create a patch in order to avoid recalling many cars in circulation.

Once Black Hat came to an end, the UAT student volunteers were headed to DEF CON! Because both security conferences fall on the same week, in the same city, many people attend both Black Hat and DEF CON.

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