An expected 6,500 IT security enthusiasts are set to converge on Las Vegas next week for the 15th annual Black Hat USA security conference.
Aside from being met with inferno-like temperatures -- the mercury usually reaches 110 degrees during the dog days of late July in the desert -- conference attendees will be treated to world-class security research, thanks to more than 80 presentations, whittled down from some 500 original entries, that are taking place over a two-day period, July 25 and 26.
Perhaps the most difficult part of Black Hat is choosing at which sessions to grab a seat. (And sometimes you can't even get a seat).
As usual, the 2012 edition of the conference will feature a number of top-notch talks that reveal vulnerabilities -- including some 20 zero-days -- across a wide-array of internet-enabled devices, things most people probably never thought were hackable. Perhaps the biggest wild card is a planned presentation from Dallas De Atley, who heads Apple's platform security team. He is slated to discuss iOS, Apple's mobile operating system, yet many don't know what to expect given Apple's long-standing reticence to discuss security.
In addition, for the first time ever, the conference will feature a track related to defensive security, apparently an effort to make the difficult task of defending systems against attack seem more sexy among the traditionally offensive-minded Black Hat crowd and speaker set.
But, given the delicacy of the subject matter, Black Hat veterans know that anything can happen at the show, and there's no sure bets that a scheduled talk will even make it to the stage, as several have been pulled, even at the 11th hour.
To get a better understanding of how the show is shaping up, Executive Editor Dan Kaplan got on the phone with Trey Ford, the newly appointed general manager of Black Hat, who discussed his transformation from booth babe to conference organizer, how the numbers are stacking up this year, which sessions are on his can't-miss list and why Black Hat parties are just as important to attend as the daytime talks.