October 22, 2018

Cyber Security Students Volunteer at Black Hat & DEF CON

Black Hat volunteers

A group of UAT Network Security students and alumni were given the chance to participate in Black Hat USA 2015 as paid volunteers and were also granted free access to DEF CON 23.

Black Hat is a security conference designed to attract people of all walks of life such as corporate businesses, government agencies, military, the private sector and independent security experts. This year, Black Hat USA 2015 was held at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, from Aug. 1-6.

Thanks to UAT Net Sec Professor 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.

Professor Russ Rogers with Will Peterson (student) at DEF CON

Professor Russ Rogers with Will Peterson (student) at DEF CON

More than 40 Network Security 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.

Although the student volunteers were kept busy during the conference, they were rewarded with a free room and meals, a paycheck, great experience and many opportunities to network with prospective employers such as LifeLock, Offensive Security, Raytheon and Booz Allen Hamilton. While talking with executives at these major companies, some students received invitations to private networking parties for a more in-depth networking opportunity.

While at Black Hat, a small group of UAT students received a private invitation to Booz Allen Hamilton’s Kaizen Capture the Flag (CTF) Challenge on Aug. 5. This was pure excitement for the hacker group from UAT.

William Peterson, a junior enrolled in the Network Security program said, “Being involved in Black Hat and DEF CON was a valuable experience. I was a first-time volunteer who got the chance to speak with prospective employers, partake in a an invitational-only CTF and I even got to be a Goon at DEF CON! What a great trip.”

Invite-only Capture the Flag (CTF) Challenge

Invite-only Capture the Flag (CTF) Challenge by Booz Allen Hamilton

Other UAT volunteers found time to attend a few of the Black Hat Briefings to learn about current industry trends in security.

Once Black Hat came to an end, the UAT student volunteers were headed to DEF CON 23! Because both security conferences fall on the same week, in the same city, many people attend both Black Hat and DEF CON.

Network Security students working at Black Hat

Network Security students working at Black Hat

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.

The UAT volunteers were also put to work at this conference. First they began helping out at the Information Booth and then some were asked to help out DEF CON security, also known as Goons. Crowd control at event this large is important and all attendees know to respect the Goons – OR ELSE!


Map of DEF CON

Students also participated in the Open CTF at DEF CON. They feel they performed well, but it takes a lot to make it to the DEF CON CTF Qualifier. Maybe next year!

One thing is true about DEF CON, these people are extremely passionate about hacking. It’s not just a hobby, but a passion and DEF CON is where these like-minded people can gather for events like CTF Challenges, the Lock Picking Village, the Tesla Car Hack Challenge and more.

If you are a UAT Net Sec student and you missed out this year, be on the lookout next summer when Black Hat is looking to hire paid volunteers! This experience is a wonderful resume builder and it could even present opportunities that you had never considered!

More DEF CON Articles:

Connect with UAT Network Security Professor Russ Rogers on LinkedIn.



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