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The dust has settled, the delayed flights have finally landed and the show floor has been cleared – but the Black Hat buzz hasn’t ended. Whether you were in Las Vegas, scrambling between the press room and Mandalay Bay Starbucks, or holding down the fort from your desk — a few key trends were hard to miss.

Here are the top takeaways that rose to the top according to Merritt Group’s team of cybersecurity experts.

The Good

Women in Security: Diversity in the cybersecurity workplace continues to drive conversations and buzz at Black Hat and beyond. While women in security was generally a huge topic of interest at the Vegas conference, the discussions weren’t your typical recruiting women into cybersecurity chatter. Instead, the conference explored what happens after women get into the field in terms of how to retain and promote female employees.  

Mental Health and the Cybersecurity Field: For years, mental health has been the elephant in the room when it comes to cybersecurity. Lack of sleep, a constant sense of urgency and high-risk environments have come to plague the workforce, causing widespread anxiety and worsening the current labor crisis. This year, Black Hat shed a light on these issues by bringing them to the forefront of conversation. Dr. Christian “Quaddi” Dameff, an emergency medicine physician and researcher, held multiple sessions, tackling critical issues in the workforce including burnout, depression and even suicide. Like any industry, the first step in solving these concerns is simply addressing them so we’re giving a virtual round of applause to the Black Hat organizers for this one.

The Bad

ICS and IoT Security Attacks on the Rise: With the current national security landscape, it’s no surprise that we’re seeing more industrial control systems and IoT device hacks and attacks across the United States. Companies are now integrating more connected devices than ever into the enterprise and even cities are turning to more technology including everything from automated alerts about weather and traffic to smart lighting and cameras. At Black Hat, our hunches were validated about the rise of more IoT hacks as we move to a more connected world.  

Biomedical Hacks: As some conference attendees suffered through delay after delay venturing home from Black Hat, the Las Vegas airport terminals were full of chatter surrounding shocking biomedical hacks at the show. From pacemakers to insulin pumps and even patients’ vital signs, Black Hat showed that in today’s dangerous threat landscape, nothing is off limits. These thought-provoking yet frightening exploits left attendees with an eerie sense of wonder regarding what to expect as the healthcare industry becomes increasingly more digital.

The Unexpected

Mind-Blowing Hack After Hack: We saw this theme coming, after all, Black Hat is a hacking conference. But we never thought we’d see this level of hacking at this year’s event. From pacemaker vulnerabilities that make it possible to remotely install malicious malware that threaten patients’ lives to hacking satellite communications technologies onboard aircraft of some of the world’s largest airlines, we saw a broad range of mind-blowing hacks come to life thanks to an amazing lineup of presenters.

As the cybersecurity industry continues to evolve, so does one of its most tried and true events. Let the countdown begin to next year…Only 353 more days!

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