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June 22, 2024

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Black Hat announces first keynote for August virtual conference, focusing on disinformation

By Charlie Mitchell / July 9, 2020

The first announced keynote speech for Black Hat’s all-digital 2020 conference will focus on disinformation, with a presentation from a leading researcher into one of the hottest and most difficult issues facing policymakers.

Renee DiResta of the Stanford Internet Observatory will deliver remarks on Aug. 6 titled “Hacking Public Opinion,” which will examine “ways in which hacking the information environment is similar and different from the kind of intrusions infosec experts normally deal with.”

The virtual conference will feature two keynotes, with an announcement to come on the other speaker. Last year’s Black Hat keynote was delivered by Dino Dai Zovi, the mobile security lead at Square, while Parisa Tabriz, Google’s director of engineering, launched Black Hat USA 2018.

Renee DiResta

Renee DiResta, Research Manager, Stanford Internet Observatory

According to Black Hat, “DiResta investigates the spread of narratives across social and media networks, with an interest in understanding how platform design and economic incentives intersect with user behaviors and crowd dynamics. In 2018, she led an investigation into the Russian Internet Research Agency’s multi-year effort to manipulate American society and elections. A year later, she led an additional comprehensive investigation into influence capabilities that the GRU (Russian military intelligence) used alongside its hack-and-leak operations in the 2016 election.”

DiResta “will offer an overview of the mechanics of modern-day information operations. Using a deep dive into the tactics behind some of the most impactful recent operations, DiResta will demonstrate the ways in which hacking the information environment is similar and different from the kind of intrusions infosec experts normally deal with. She will conclude with a look ahead to the 2020 elections and create a call-to-action for the audience to deploy their skills in the defense of democracy.”

The Cyberspace Solarium Commission in late May released a white paper to supplement its landmark report, addressing disinformation and other issues stoked by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Black Hat also released the latest update on Aug. 5-6 briefings with a wide-ranging list of sessions on Internet of Things issues, election security and more. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Director Christopher Krebs will discuss election security during an Aug. 5 briefing.

The virtual conference begins Aug. 1 with training sessions and includes an Aug. 4 “CISO Summit.” Black Hat and the related Def Con announced in May that they were moving to an all-digital format in light of the pandemic, scrapping for the year the annual mega-conferences in Las Vegas. – Charlie Mitchell (