Black Hat and Defcon Takeaways: 3 PR Tips to Capitalize on Trends

By Katie Creaser

In early August, thousands of hackers, infosec pros and solutions providers descended on Las Vegas for Black Hat and Defcon, two of the industry’s largest and most important conferences.

The weeks leading up to the events are stressful for security marketers who want press attention on the show floor. With more than 280 exhibitors, major announcements from big companies and breaking hacks and research – it’s a difficult PR effort for most vendors. However, the media interest that happens in Vegas doesn’t stay there, and post-conference coverage offers strong insight into the trends and topics that reporters will cover through the end of the year.

Here are three major information security trends from Black Hat and Defcon 2019 and ways to capitalize on them:

  1. Election Infrastructure: From vulnerabilities in voting machines to hacking social media algorithms for political influence campaigns, as we head into the 2020 presidential campaign, the Voting Village at Defcon definitely made headlines. Researchers believe that flaws and security gaps in voting tech could potentially impact the election – and it’s guaranteed that reporters will be following this story in the months to come.

How to break into the story:

  • Develop unique thought leadership (e.g. technical pieces and op-eds) around the biggest election security threats. Remember that generic commentary won’t work here, but evidence-based opinion will.
  • Support the battle cry for national security standards for voting systems, with specifics on what should be included.
  • Prepare for rapid response to breaking security news leading up to the election.
  • Share proprietary intelligence and data to predict potential threats.
  1. The Business of Security: Cybersecurity has become a board-level conversation – it’s no longer relegated to the IT department. As a result, infosec companies are challenged to sell directly to a newly interested C-suite, elevating their messaging and content to focus on the executive buyer. This year’s Black Hat keynote, Dai Zovi, head of mobile security at Square, addressed the importance of security culture – from effective communication between technical and non-technical teams to the value of software automation.

How to break into this story:

  • Use company executives to provide market perspective and commentary on the broader trends impacting the enterprise (e.g. workforce shortage, new attack vectors, the impact of AI/automation, etc.).
  • Revisit corporate messaging and positioning to develop a clear storyline for the executive buyer – highlight competitive differentiators, proof points and impact on the bottom line.
  • Focus on vertical markets and trade publications to support sale efforts. The needs of a healthcare system are very different from a financial services organization – make sure your marketing content addresses the specific challenges faced by your key vertical markets.
  1. Connected Cars: At this year’s conferences, researchers demonstrated how to modify everything from GPS signals to traffic lights. Car hacks and exploits are nothing new, but as autonomous vehicles get closer to reality and IoT continues to transform the automotive industry, cybersecurity is an undeniable priority. While manufacturers and developers double down on their commitment to driver safety, the media will continue to cover this trend.

How to break into this story:

  • Create owned content (e.g. corporate blog or LinkedIn) focusing on technical solutions to exploits that were revealed during the conference.
  • Eyes on the future. Develop a perspective on how cybersecurity will support innovation for the automotive industry over the next decade and beyond.
  • Collect data or issue a survey with a unique angle on consumer/manufacturer concerns or separate myth from reality (pro-tip: do your due diligence and research here to come up with a fresh take).

Black Hat and Defcon are over, but the market trends they’ve revealed aren’t going away anytime soon. To learn more about how to use this year’s biggest information security trends to bolster your PR strategy, reach out at Katie.creaser@icrinc.com.

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