Black Hat USA Keynotes Reveal Cybersecurity Challenges of Democratic Elections

As the U.S. prepares to hold elections, next week's Black Hat USA keynotes offer fresh, relevant insights into the challenges of doing that amid a global pandemic.

Are you ready to attend the first all-digital Black Hat USA cybersecurity conference next week?

If you haven't already, make sure to check out the Briefings schedule and list of Training opportunities that still have seats available to ensure you're getting maximum value out of your time at the event.

It's an election year in the United States, and with the topic of elections gaining traction in the U.S. media now seems like an important time to highlight the two keynotes taking place at Black Hat USA next week. Each offers fresh and intriguing insights into the challenges cybersecurity professionals face when trying to safeguard free and open elections, so consider making time to catch both as you're planning out what to see and do at the show.

In his Stress-Testing Democracy: Election Integrity During a Global Pandemic keynote on Wednesday, Georgetown University's Matt Blaze will explore the roadblocks (technological, logistical, and political) that stand in the way of holding a secure, safe, and efficient national election in the wake of COVID-19.

Technologists have long warned that much of the technology and infrastructure we depend on for voting suffers from exploitable vulnerabilities that could be used to cast doubt on the integrity of elections. Those problems are extremely challenging under normal circumstances, but a global pandemic adds a new dimension to the mix: protecting the health of voters and election workers.

How do we securely and robustly scale up safer, broadly accessible voting mechanisms between now and November? Get answers, analysis, and practical guidance from Blaze at Black Hat USA!

And on Thursday, look forward to an hour-long keynote on Hacking Public Opinion in which Renée DiResta (of the Stanford Internet Observatory) will bring you up to speed on the mechanics of modern-day information operations.

Online disinformation has reached fever pitch: grifters pushing fake cures for COVID-19, nation states spinning pandemic conspiracies, domestic ideologues coordinating to push manipulative videos about presidential candidates. With a deep dive into the tactics behind some of the most impactful recent operations, DiResta will demonstrate ways in which hacking the information environment is similar and different from the kind of intrusions cybersecurity professionals normally deal with.

Expect to conclude with a look ahead to the 2020 elections and a call to use your skills in defense of democracy, with examples of how cybersecurity's most sophisticated players — nation states — leverage social networks and network infiltration to influence, distract, and manipulate large communities of people. There's never been a more critical time to be up to speed on this stuff, and no better place to learn it than Black Hat USA!

Register now for this year's fully virtual Black Hat USA, still scheduled to take place August 1st through 6th, and get more information about the event on the Black Hat website.

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