Inside the Black Hat USA 2017 Security Conference WiFi Network

LAS VEGAS—Providing WiFi to 16,000 people in a busy conference center is not always an easy task, especially when many of the users are actively trying to hack the network. Yet, that's the situation at the Black Hat USA 2017 security conference underway here this week.

For the 2017 event, WiFi is being provided by Ruckus, as part of a Network Operations Center (NOC) that also includes network security and monitoring tools from multiple vendors. In a video interview with eWEEK, Heather Williams, solutions engineer at Ruckus, provides an overview of the hardware that is deployed to enable WiFi, as well as some of the challenges in the Black Hat environment.

In total, Williams said she will deploy approximately 125 Ruckus WiFi access points across the Mandalay Bay conference center to provide solid coverage for attendees who choose to use the network. She noted that typically at a conference, up to 50 percent of users choose to use the conference WiFi network. Black Hat USA, however, is not a typical conference.

"This is a unique network for many reasons," Williams said. "Everybody is wearing their tin-foil hats, they come with their burner devices, and they are paranoid.

"There are probably more people trying to attack my network than actually trying to use it," she added.

Black Hat is no longer just a U.S. conference, with versions of the show now in Europe and Asia, though Williams noted that the threats are still different in the United States. The vastness of the Mandalay Bay conference space and dealing with the hotel infrastructure can be a challenge, she said. In other parts of the world, attendees tend to be civilized, Williams added.

"Here, everybody brings their 'A' game and it is very much the wild, wild west out here," she said.

Watch the full interview with Heather Williams above.

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