Black Hat MEA 2023: Riyadh gears up for global cybersecurity convergence 

Black Hat MEA 2023: Riyadh gears up for global cybersecurity convergence 
Black Hat MEA 2023: Riyadh gears up for global cybersecurity convergence 

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - RIYADH: Cybersecurity leaders from around the globe are set to converge in Riyadh for the second edition of Black Hat Middle East and Africa, a rapidly expanding conference in the online industry. 

The event, scheduled for Nov. 14 to 16 at the Riyadh Exhibition and Convention Centre, is poised to be a cornerstone for industry growth, themed under “Infosec on the Edge.”  

Organized by Tahaluf in collaboration with the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming, and Drones, Black Hat MEA is expected to surpass its inaugural size by a 41 percent, as indicated by a 119 percent increase in early visitor registrations. 

Featuring over 350 exhibitors from 120 countries, the event will showcase interactive workshops, training programs, and a high-level executive summit. More than 50 startups are set to participate, with over 150 briefing sessions, 40 arsenal sessions, and 40 executive summit sessions on the agenda. 

Anticipating over 40,000 attendees, Black Hat MEA aims to position itself as the largest cybersecurity event in the region and a global leader in terms of attendance.  

The agenda covers crucial areas of the cybersecurity sector, including artificial intelligence, compliance, risk management, and the evolving role of women in cybersecurity. 

Speakers from global tech giants like Huawei, Netflix, and Uber will share insights critical to safeguarding digital infrastructure.  

The conference kicks off with opening remarks by Faisal Al-Khamisi, chairman of the SAFCSP, and Annabelle Mander, senior vice president of Tahaluf, outlining the strategic direction for the infosec community. 

“The number of international vendors has more than doubled, with over 60 percent of exhibitors being global businesses, mainly from the US and Europe, keen on tapping into Saudi Arabia’s huge potential,” Mander said in a press note.  

She added: “As Saudi Arabia forges ahead with its ambitious developmental agenda, Black Hat MEA is becoming a crucial platform for integrating the local and international cyber sectors.”  

Highlight panels include “Attribution, Partnerships, and Incident Response” featuring Cynthia Kaiser from the FBI and “Privacy in the Age of AI: Navigating Data Challenges & Safeguarding Personal Information” with industry leaders addressing data privacy complexities amid AI advancements. 

In this panel, Latha Maripuri, chief information security officer at Uber, Jim Higgins, CISO of Snap, and David Cross, CISO of Oracle SaaS Cloud, will tackle the complexities of data privacy amid AI advancements. 

Vitaly Gudanets, CISO of Netflix, will also be part of the discussion, and they are set to share insights on pioneering solutions, practical applications, and the trajectory of privacy conservation amidst evolving AI technologies.  

On Nov. 15, the “Security Continuum” panel, led by Pascal Andrei, chief security officer at Airbus, will bridge the gap between physical and digital security realms. The final day will feature the influential panel “Driving Diversity: Women’s Impact on the Future of Technology.”  

Betania Allo, cybersecurity innovation and partnerships manager at NEOM, will spotlight the transformative roles women hold in the tech sector and the significance of diversity in fostering breakthroughs and advancements.  

The event boasts a lineup of over 300 speakers offering invaluable insights for crafting robust cybersecurity strategies.  

It will host a trade show that serves as a pivotal platform for industry specialists from global brands to network, forge partnerships, and uncover new opportunities.   

Companies like Snap, with its expansive user base and commitment to privacy, and Airbus, a leader in aviation security, will showcase their strategies for safeguarding their operations against cyber threats.  

With the attending investors and startups representing $8 billion in assets under management, the event will also host CyberSeed, Black Hat MEA’s landmark startup pitch competition.   

This expansion will offer more awards and recognition for cybersecurity innovation, with startups competing in front of an esteemed panel of judges and investors for a share of a $40,000 prize fund.  

New to this year’s event is the Black Hat Campus, a unique area designed for investor-startup matchmaking and cybersecurity investment discussions.   

The campus will also bring together vendors, universities, recruiters, and consultancies for first-hand demos, developer-led showcases of the latest open-source tools and products, and engaging cybersecurity activities.  

“At Tahaluf, we are committed to equipping the next generation with advanced skills. We’ve launched the Black Hat campus, a student-focused zone for nurturing local talent. This initiative offers unique learning opportunities under expert cyber professionals,” added Mander.    

Furthermore, the event will host a “Capture The Flag” tournament, designed in the style of a jeopardy challenge.   

This ethical hacking contest stands as the largest in the region, drawing over a thousand entrants who will engage in tasks spanning forensics, reverse engineering, and cryptography.   

Competitors, ranging from novices to seasoned experts, will contend for a portion of the substantial $187,000 prize pool.  

In addition, the inaugural CISO Chapter will invite members to participate in lounges, boardrooms, and workshops to address industry hurdles collaboratively.  

The event will also host the Black Hat MEA Arsenal in collaboration with ToolsWatch, where developers present the latest in open-source tools and products.  

This interactive forum will allow for direct engagement between presenters and attendees, offering hands-on learning experiences.   

Information security experts will be on hand to disclose the newest industry methods and insights, while skilled hackers will reveal contemporary breaching strategies.  

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