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Tackling taboos in the tech sector

Steve Oldenbourg, Director of Content, Informa Tech, San Francisco

Black Hat USA is the world’s leading information security event, where we bring together nearly 19,000 security professionals for the latest research, trends and best practices that help keep information secure. The show’s programming is made up of “tracks”, mainly focusing on specific technologies, but in 2018 Black Hat introduced a “Community track” in response to growing recognition that there is a huge opportunity to address some of the more hidden issues that affect people working in the information security (“InfoSec”) community. We wanted to provide a forum for sharing ideas and discussing the human side of the industry. But we also wanted to stay true to our roots – creating a conference programme that is driven by the community. So, as in our other tracks, we invited members of our InfoSec community to submit papers on their latest work. The response was tremendous – we received almost 70 proposals. They were all considered by our Review Board, a group of 50–60 of the industry’s most credible and distinguished security professionals and thought leaders, who selected topics based on their uniqueness, the expertise of the speaker, as well as the relevance and need for increased discussion of these topics in the sector. The selected talks for 2018 were as follows:

  • Substance abuse in the InfoSec sector.
  • Fighting burnout and suicide in hacker communities
  • Helping communities move forward after sexual harassment incidents.
  • PTSD in the cybersecurity environment.
  • The science of hiring and retaining female engineers.
  • How someone with autism can enhance the cybersecurity workforce.

Many of these topics opened discussions on tackling some of the taboos in the industry and they resonated positively with our attendees, with three talks scoring in our top 20. In 2019, Black Hat will continue to implement community talks around pressing InfoSec issues, with the help of our Review Board, who are eager to help shape this important programme for our audience.