It is October 5th, 8:40 am. I am standing in the middle of the Shinjuku metro station helplessly staring at a spacious maze of entries, exits and crossings that is completely crowded with people. I am trying to find at least one sign written in English. In 20 minutes, I have to be in the Keio Plaza hotel, in which the BlackHat Japan conference takes place this year.
At the conference, all my preconceptions about the type of people who would attend a Black Hat event are proven wrong: instead of finding a crowd of suspicious-looking characters in black hats, I am met by several hundred highly civilized IT specialists, most of whom are regular Japanese office workers. People told me that you are more likely to come across a “hacker” atmosphere at the Las Vegas Black Hat, which takes place every August.
Black Hat Japan 2006 was divided into two briefing tracks, which meant that I only managed to see half the presentations. The presentations ranged from general informational overviews to highly technical descriptions of new developments in the field of system programming. A good third of the presentations dealt with malicious code. Joanna Rutkowska (www.invisiblethings.org) presented her already well-known proof-of-concept rootkit, which is based on virtualization technology, and ways of bypassing the Microsoft Vista policy. Darren Bilby from Security Assessment gave a presentation about another proof-of-concept rootkit for defeating live forensic disk and memory analysis. Two other presentations covered systems for collecting and automatically analyzing viruses and current online threats such as phishing.
It is a pity that attendance at IT conferences is lower in Russia than it is in USA and Europe. Some of the most skilled and forward-thinking specialists in the field attend conferences like Black Hat Japan 2006, and I am convinced that events like this do a lot to foster the professional development of attendees.