Greetings from Blackhat 2013

Blog Post created by patrick_hellen on Jul 31, 2013

Good Morning all. It's your Friendly Neighborhood Community Manager, coming to you live from Blackhat here in intensely warm Las Vegas.


Rapid7 is here as always for the big show, and I'm here to bring you some quick snapshots of some of the more interesting talk tracks that I'm attending. Keep your eye on SecurityStreet over the next few days, as we plan on some of our usual writers and researchers putting their two cents in as well.


To kick things off, the Keynote this morning was kind of an interesting one. General Keith B. Alexander - the Director of the NSA - was the speaker, and his topic was an attempt to both humanize and defend the incredibly unpopular NSA surveillance programs.


I'll give him credit - as I would not want to be the guy responsible for defending PRISM to this crowd - but overall I felt like it was very much a PR or apology type of speech. He gave multiple examples of why the surveillance programs are successful, and how necessary it is to combat terrorism, and it was pretty compelling stuff.


As he did get into the PRISM territory, the crowd started to shift a bit against him. Cries of "********", and multiple other outbursts from a few very vocal attendees were generally received with laughter and applause, but it was far tamer than I expected. If he gave the same speech at Defcon, I think he would have had a much worse time.


I do think that he was successful in putting a human face on himself and the teams at the NSA, but that he's got a long way to go before the concerns the public has about these programs goes away. I'm sure we'll be hearing from him quite often in the coming months.


Let us know what you thought in the comments below, and we'll see if we can get another take on it