Anthony Martini ’16 attends BlackHat conference in Vegas


Seidenberg’s own Anthony Martini (MS-CS ‘16), recipient of the NSF CyberCorps scholarship for service, recently attended the prestigious Black Hat conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. This is the fourth information security conference that Anthony has attended in the last two and a half years, thanks to the support of CyberCorps and other scholarships.

Read on for Anthony’s experiences!

What is Black Hat? 

“Black Hat is one of the most well known information security conferences in the world. Black Hat, held in Las Vegas, is part of “InfoSec Week,” along with Def-Con and B-Sides. At Black Hat, I learned about some of the latest and greatest hacks and breakthroughs in the field of InfoSec. I heard from some of the greatest and most experienced in security and the InfoSec industry at large, like Richard Bejtlich, the author of  The Practice of Network Security.

“For all those who attended using the Student Scholarship, a breakfast was held the first day to introduce the newcomers to the spirit of BlackHat (and get them fed!). A few presenters gave informal background stories on their lives in InfoSec and what the industry is looks like in their eyes; this was some of the most important insight I gained. They advised us as newcomers to plan to attend 3-4 talks.  The rest of the time, they said, go create a community and learn how to make it better. I took that message to heart.”

Some Highlights from Black Hat

Innovation City

Innovation City showcased a number of startup security efforts. Some touched upon new ways of Information Sharing, which is an effort to decrease the effectiveness of newly discovered bugs by spreading knowledge of their existence to partners in the program. In general, the ideas presented were turnkey solutions, which needed some time to develop before they could become scalable solutions for an enterprise.


One of the most valuable assets to a security minded person is their ability to understand hands-on labs and attacks. The Arsenal included sessions on multiple attacks and creative new venues that teach exploit-ready software and plugins for popular tools. Almost all of these tools have free versions, or can be found open source.

PWNIE Awards (Pronounced:[Pone-e])

The Hacker community has a fascination with sophistication when it comes to exploitation. So in order to officially recognize this at the conference and give credit where credit is due to those who best  ‘PWN’ in categories such as Priv-Escalation, Server-Side/Client-Side Bugs, most innovative research , and lastly infamy for the worst (or best mishandling) vendor response to an incident.

The Facility

anthony2Mandalay Bay Conference Center is an outstanding facility. The scale of this is easily the size of Madison square garden. It was definitely possible to get lost, but once you find the quadrant that contains the core BlackHat Venue, it was easy enough to get around. Many of the social activities that accompany the Con, however, were spread out in the facility and could be hard to find.

Mandalay Bay Conference Center has a rooftop venue called the ‘Foundation Room’, which overlooked the entire strip that contains the most concentrated area of the city.

How I Attended the Conference

Black Hat offers scholarships for students to attend the conference.

Requirements: In order to apply for one of these scholarships, students must meet the following criteria:

  • Must be at least 18 years old at the time of the event
  • Must provide copy of verifiable proof of full-time academic status at an accredited college or university.
  • Must provide copy of valid and current college/university ID card

Anthony’s advice for those thinking about applying? “Apply, do it!” 

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