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Survival guide: Being secure at Black Hat 2019

By:
Ethan Durand
July 25, 2019

Black Hat is known for being the ultimate playground for hackers. But instead of swings and jungle gyms, it's phishing sites and compromised Wi-Fi networks.

Tens of thousands of hackers and security researchers congregate in Las Vegas to participate in one of the largest hacker conventions in the world. Many of them are out to hack your device and put you on the infamous Wall of Sheep.

The Wall of Sheep is a public shame list and demonstration of what can happen when network users have insecure devices. On a large screen in front of all your friends and colleagues will be a display of usernames and half of their passwords representing the stolen login credentials of somebody who was not prepared.

One successful strategy used by hackers is to trick people into connecting their devices to false Wi-Fi networks like “WiFiExtenderBlackHat,” which can be very deceiving. Now once the user sends a few emails or tweets, the passwords and login information begin to be sent to the hacker.

It is this type of baaaaaad security practices that will make you a sheep.

Thankfully, some of the hackers at the conference aren’t after your identity, money, or anything else, but to publicly shame you into the risks of cyberattacks and encourage people to be more mindful about their security.

Other hackers aren’t so friendly. It’s the ones who are looking to steal your identity, money, and information where you must be prepared. Malicious intended hackers can steal passwords and other confidential user credentials with little to no effort.

Don’t roll the dice with security.

Keep your device and information safe with these Black Hat survival guide tips:

  1. Back up your phone to your home computer, back up your tablet, back up everything. Once home you can reset them to factory defaults and restore all your information and applications. What happens in Vegas can really stay in Vegas.
  2. If you want to go online, a wired connection or a cellular connection through a smartphone or cellular hotspot is the better way to ensure your device is secure.
  3. If you must use public WiFi, immediately connecting to a virtual private network (VPN) is a way for you to create an encrypted connection. This enables you to browse the internet on an encrypted connection, and stay hidden from hackers.
  4. Set up multi-factor authentication for all of your accounts. This will be an additional line of defense for you to verify when an account is trying to login.
  5. Turn off your Bluetooth service when you aren’t using it and avoid using unprotected Bluetooth networks. Be a shepherd not a sheep.

Of course having a six-digit passcode, not leaving your phone unattended, and enabling location services to find a lost device are all best practices to mitigate risk.

It’s easy to become a sheep if you aren’t prepared, but it’s just as easy to learn how to avoid becoming one.

Vectra is hosting a VIP Reception at Black Hat where you can enjoy the music of the internationally acclaimed Depeche Mode Tribute Band, Strange Love. Enjoy drinks and appetizers at the House of Blues with Vectra and other security practitioners.

About the author

Ethan Durand

Ethan Durand is a content marketing intern at Vectra. He is currently pursuing a Business Marketing degree from San Jose State University and has been with Vectra since 2018.

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