Last week we here at Beans attended the first annual BlackHat Abu Dhabi to speak on software sandboxing technologies (Google Chrome) and relevant security issues. (This was the same talk from EuSecWest and ReCon.) This was the first time I (Stephen A. Ridley) had been outside of the airport in the Middle East. (The closest I’d ever come previously for any extended period was India or maybe Italy).
The conference location (the Emirates Palace) was lavish to say the least. Shortly after Blackhat Abu Dhabi it was the first to host the most expensive Christmas Tree in the world. And earlier that year, the hotel made headlines for hosting the world’s first gold vending machine. Funny story about Barnaby Jack and that ATM (who was speaking at Blackhat Abu Dhabi about breaking into ATMs ;-).
What made the trip even better was that my dad also came along with me. With my dad about to meet some grungy hacker types, I worried a bit about worlds colliding but my dad is a chill dude so my worries soon abated…only to immediately return upon introducing him to a very inebriated Grugq and Barnaby Jack. (I heard: “Nice friends you have here son.” a few times on this trip 😉 But in the end, everyone decided my dad was cooler than me anyway.
As is usual for these conferences, I got to hang with old friends, make some new ones, and to meet some interesting folks like Moxie and Vanity Fair’s Michael Joseph Gross. I even got a chance to bore the FireEye CEO with some of my wacky data correlation ideas for malware analysis.
The conference itself and my talk went very well despite a relatively small turnout (by Blackhat standards). The sponsors (the Crown Prince himself, AE Cert, and officials from the “Telecommunications Regulatory Authority“) were very gracious and forgiving 😉 .
Blackhat Abu Dhabi wrapped up the same weekend as the first Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, so as grungy hackers were leaving the Emirates Palace celebrities, aristocrats, and foreign dignitaries were all showing up.
All-in-all, I’m sure the next one will be even bigger and better. If you have the chance, you should go to the next one. The UAE is pretty blingin’.
Some sample images are below, but a complete photo-journal of the trip you can view as a big labeled slideshow here.