While it feels illegal to hang out with your friends right now, the pandemic is no match for the dedicated folks who unite for Black Hat and DEF CON every year. In 2020, both conferences are running virtually, highlighting the remarkable zeal with which security professionals and hackers continue to innovate, adapt, and overcome the unexpected challenges of COVID-19. That said… the setup is still a little shaky, so strap yourself in because I have a feeling the next couple of days will be wild! 

In the meantime, here’s a listicle of GIFs* with my top 10 tips for getting the most out of this year’s virtual lineup of content, speakers, and events:

1. PSA: First things first. DEF CON might not be running the Wall of Sheep in your living room, but that doesn’t mean you should throw caution to the wind. Remember to practice good digital hygiene by sanitizing your devices as often as your hands. And while it’s completely unnecessary, I still recommend using a burner phone so that you get an at-home experience that’s as close to attending the real conference as possible.


2. PANEL: Now that you’ve got your flip phone handy, be sure to add Medical Device Vulnerability Disclosure in the Biohacking Village to your calendar on Friday, August 7th at 14:30. In this mini panel, Chloé Messdaghi, Eirick Lurass, and I will run you through the past, current, and future state of vulnerability disclosure in the medical sector. Actually, wait…do flip phones even have calendars?! *immediately checks*


3. DEMO: If the only apps your burner phone has are Snake and sadness, don’t worry, you can tune into Joshua Maddux as he delivers the thought-provoking demo When TLS Hacks You on Friday, August 7th at 13:30.


4. EVENT: Had enough of the pandemic and our other Earthly problems? Watch Jay Turla, an Application Security Engineer here at Bugcrowd, and the ADDVulcan Team as they regain control of a rogue satellite and rotate its camera gimbals to take a moon shot. Find out more about the event and Aerospace Village over at the Hack-A-Sat website.


5. CHAT: If you get lost in deep space because HAL (the original social distancer) won’t open the pod bay door…don’t despair. You can chat with all of your favorite villages over Discord until your fingers frost off! There’s a channel for almost every niche/existential crisis you can think of, with the Car Hacking Village running at least 14 different chats to keep the community connected.


6. PANEL: OH, AND REMEMBER HOW ONE OF THE MOST DIVISIVE ELECTIONS IN U.S HISTORY IS SCHEDULED TO HAPPEN IN ~90 DAYS AMID A PANDEMIC? Same. Get the latest facts and more in Hacking Democracy II: On Securing an Election Under Times of Uncertainty and Upheaval at the Voting Village on Friday, August 7th at 11:30.


7. DEMO: If you’re looking for something with the same sizzle, but less spice, tune into Office Dramaon macOS as Patrick Wardle analyzes macro-based attacks targeting Apple’s desktop OS by exploring the macOS-specific exploit code and payloads. In just 30 minutes on August 7th at 18:30, you’ll learn about various detection mechanisms and how they can be leveraged to prevent future attacks.


8. MEET: Join the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital civil liberties group fighting for freedom and privacy in the computer age, for a candid chat about how the law is racing to catch up with technological change and discovery on Saturday, August 8th at 19:00.

P.S. Did you know that Bugcrowd was named in the Amici Curiae Computer Security Researchers brief by the Supreme Court of the United States earlier this year?


9. READ: Catch up on this interview with the Black Hat 2020 CISO Summit advisory board members on current security trends, the evolving role of the CISO, and what they believe businesses should be preparing for.


10. FIRESIDE: Finally… though the truths revealed by COVID-19 can be bitter and bleak, the need for safety and security continues to increase. In D0 N0 H4RM: A Healthcare Security Conversation, you’ll hear from physicians-turned-hackers on the talent, ingenuity, and vision needed to solve the challenges we face now and in the future. Be sure to tune in on August 7th at 20:00.


Now, the Internet may feel more like the Wild West than ever, but don’t let that stop you from putting yourself out there and getting involved with virtual events at Black Hat and DEF CON. The infosec community is built on the hard work of the diverse individuals who dare to collaborate on some of the world’s toughest challenges – and there are many problems out there that could benefit from your creativity and mind power. All you need to do is #TakeHacktion

Until then, safe surfing!



*…so, does that make this a Gifticle or a Listigif? Tweet me your thoughts at @caseyjohnellis