One of the highlights for me in any given year that I’m at Black Hat, is seeing big name hackers do what they do best. This year, I’m going to miss seeing at least one of them.
One of those big name hackers (for me) has been Charlie Miller, since at least 2007 when i first saw him speak. Miller was the first human to hack an iPhone. It was an astounding feat of skill and drama and I enjoyed every minute that I sat in the session room at Caesar’s Palace.
Over the years, Miller’s legend has expanded as he dominated HP Zero Day Initiative’s (ZDI) Pwn2Own event making short work for browser vendors across multiple years. It’s an effort that has won him the coveted prize jacket that he has so proudly worn on so many occasions.
In 2007, I watched Miller, attempt to hack Apple batteries in order to hack a Mac OS machine (echoed this year by the Mactans charger talk). Last year, I watched Miller attempt to hack Android users via Near Field Communications.
So suffice it to say, I was excited to see what Miller would be talking about at Black Hat 2013.
As it turns out though, Miller isn’t speaking this year—at least not at Black Hat.
Over the course of the last week, I’ve seen Miller’s legend grow exponentially as he has made the rounds of major newspaper and TV outlets. He has been talking about amazing new research on hacking cars. It’s research that he’ll be talking about at DEF CON on Friday.
So why isn’t Miller at Black Hat this year?
I publicly asked that question on Twitter (it’s a 140 character world!) and Miller told me that in fact, he had submitted his talk to Black Hat.
It was rejected.
So I asked Trey Ford (yup also on Twitter – full disclosure in the public is awesome isn’t it?) why he didn’t select Miller’s talk. After all Miller has spoken at Black Hat many times and the research clearly is ridiculously interesting.
@TechJournalist @0xcharlie @nudehaberdasher totally, it looks like some amazing research, would have been great to see at the show!
IMHO imperfect process, imperfect people, imperfect submissions allow this to happen. We will learn, iterate, and improve :)
For the record, I intend on being in the room at DEF CON on Friday when Miller speaks, after all I’m a fan of his work.
In the final analysis, I’m not sure that it really matters all that much if he’s not speaking at Black Hat, but it is interesting to note that one of the most hyped talks about security this week, was rejected by Black Hat.
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.