How Dangerous Is the Black Hat Network Operations Center?

VIDEO: eWEEK gets a look inside the 2016 Black Hat Network Operations Center.

LAS VEGAS--In a dark room on a busy floor at the Mandalay Bay Hotel here sits the Black Hat Network Operations Center (NOC), which could well be one of the most hostile environments many IT people will ever see.

Black Hat's NOC in many ways is like any other NOC, in that the goal is to enable access while protecting users. The big difference with Black Hat's NOC though is that the users are attacking each other, sometimes in a training room setting and sometimes more broadly too. For Bart Stump and Neil Wyler (aka Grifter), the two individuals tasked with running the Black Hat NOC, stopping attacks, malicious or otherwise, isn't necessarily something they will do.

In a video interview filmed in the dark room that is the NOC, Wyler, Stump and James Cabe, senior technical strategist at Fortinet, discuss the network setup, the dangers and the security of the Black Hat 2016 network. The Black Hat NOC makes use of hardware and software from multiple vendors, including Fortinet, Brocade, RSA and others, to help provision, maintain and analyze the network.

One of the biggest questions that is asked at any Black Hat event is whether or not the WiFi network is secure and can be trusted. The 2016 network is open and doesn't use any password protection, but that doesn't mean that the NOC isn't watching what's going on either.

"Everyone is individually VLAN'ed [virtual LAN] on the wireless attendee network," Stump said.

He added that attendees should also use a VPN (virtual private network) to further minimize risk and improve security. Without a VPN, all traffic is sent in the clear, and when users visit non-HTTPS sites and enter login information, all information is sent in the clear, where Stump and the rest of the Black Hat NOC can see it.

Watch the full interview below:

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner is an Internet consultant, strategist, and contributor to several leading IT business web sites.