Las Vegas in August. Common sense might suggest those things go together about as well as wearing mohair in the Mojave. From a security perspective, however, it means making the annual pilgrimage to the land where what happens there stays there, to participate in the week-long activities surrounding one of the oldest standing (and best) security conferences: the Black Hat Briefings.\n\nIt is said that a smart person learns from past mistakes, while a wise one learns from the mistakes of others. In an era in which the world seems to be burning in front of our eyes, and one in which the threat of cyberattacks has become as common as the myriad of emails from wealthy African princes waiting to share their bounty with each of us if we just send money, it\u2019s sometimes a good thing to look at how we got to where we are, what we can learn from our experience, and what we can pass on to the next generation (so that maybe they can improve on what our peers began!).\n\nI remember sitting at what was then the Conrad Hilton (\u201cChicago Hilton Towers\u201d) at the CSI annual conference in 1998, dining on bow-tie pasta with my long-time friends, Black Hat Founder Jeff Moss, and \u00a0Adam Shostack. We were discussing how to advance the two-day event prior to Jeff\u2019s Def Con security forum into a bona fide gathering of deeply-rooted security scientists who would convene to share their break-throughs and break-ins in two days of break-out sessions.\n\nThat was the 1990s and everybody, it seemed, wanted a piece of the action in the fledgling and already over-vendored world of Information Security, so money wasn\u2019t the issue, especially for vendors who were trying to garner the graces of Gartner, Giga, Meta and the other groups who quickly competed to define the parameters of a \u201cComprehensive IT Security Solution.\u201d Jeff\u2019s young event, the same age as my youngest daughter, who was born shortly after DefCon 5 in 1997, took place around a couple of folding tables in a small conference room in the Aladdin Hotel. The topics included secure coding, Windows NT, ActiveX, firewalls not being enough, and cryptography. Wow, 19 years later and we\u2019re still seeing some of the same problems.\n\nSince those humble beginnings, billions of dollars ($75 billion, according to Gartner), have been routed through CFOs\u2019 budgets, developing, buying and selling tech, tools, teams and whole companies, all in an effort to combat these things called polymorphic viruses, malware, DDoS attacks and APTs. And faster than we could see Marcus Ranum in the parking lot hawking T-shirts, Mudge in a suit, another \u201cFree Kevin\u201d bumper sticker, or watch while DilDog and Sir Dystic reveal their latest achievements in the latest CDC iteration of Back Orifice, we now find ourselves in a full-fledged conflict that was born out of the very tools we developed to make our lives easier.\n\nThe once dominating demises brought on by Stacheldraht, NIMDA, SynFlood, Code Red, Red Button, and the ever-present Blue Screen of Death, have either grown into something new or have gone by way of XP, NetWare and the dodo, to be replaced by the likes of Black Energy, Conficker, Duqu and Stuxnet. Where there were once just pockets of "interest groups" looking at how to manipulate (and exploit) code, whole nations now invest sanctioned funding to find ways to challenge the confidentiality, integrity and availability of this and other countries\u2019 crown jewels.\n\nAnd Jeff? His gathering in the desert\u2014whose origins were loosely connected to a bunch of really smart, innovative guys who shared a common affinity in carrying on where Robert Redford\u2019s character in Sneakers left off (and possibly getting together before Burning Man), it has become a commercial success that is now convening for the 19th year. Back then, I'd have said somebody check my brain if they told me I was going to be invited to a "sponsored concert" at the House of Blues with Alice in Chains.\n\nWhat to look for at Black Hat 2016\n\nWay back when, Jeff, Adam and 15 of his friends\u2014some of the smartest men in the fledgling computer security industry\u2014provided the two-day fare. This year attendees will find career tracks, business networking events, a book store, a CISO summit\u2014even a forum that discusses the \u201cBlack Hat Student Scholarship Program.\u201d\n\nWhile the likes of Priest and his incredibly hospitable \u201cGoons\u201d are gearing up for another DefCon that follows Black Hat, and Mark Hardy prepares his fourth iteration as the heir-apparent to security legend Winn Schwartau\u2019s beloved-but-dubious Hacker Jeopardy (aka, two days of drinking shots on a stage while answering really hard questions about the taxonomy of IT security), CSOs and high-level executives attending this week\u2019s Black Hat Briefings would do well to look at a couple of key activities that will more than justify the expense of the entry fee\u2014and the hangovers most will have after Thursday (and before DefCon, as BHB parties are legendary):\n\nWhile there are a total of 118 sessions over two days (in comparison to the original 16 that were offered in 1997), Jeff\u2019s techno-party in the Nevada Oasis has become the staple in deep-diving into the realm of the fastest-growing sector of IT, and a contributor to new industry career paths (including the role called \u201cChief Security Officer\u201d). Although our industry has come a long way from those \u201cearly days\u201d in the late 1990s, when Becky Base was first\u00a0funding IDS companies\u00a0out of the NSA, and\u00a0Deb Radcliff\u2019s\u00a0award-winning \u201cBarbarians at the Firewall\u201d appeared in Byte (and drew the attention of a brand new \u201cCyber Unit\u201d out of San Francisco\u2019s FBI field office), the core problems surrounding our increasing dependency on The Internet of Things means thinking in often abstract ways to address problems and defend our critical infrastructures.\n\nAnd that is why Jeff Moss\u2019 Black Hat Briefings, and the annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas at the height of the heat is worth the price of admission!