By Al Hartmann

Nine Tips for Not Getting Pwned at Black Hat

(Originally Published on TechCrunch)

Honestly, does anyone even say ‘pwned’ anymore? Am I exposing myself even more by putting it into the headline? Ugh, this is not off to a good start.

Anyhow, what I wanted to provide are some basic tips for anyone heading to Black Hat/DEF CON next week in Vegas. Now, let’s be honest, most of the actual security folks there will already do this basic stuff and be onto the more sophisticated levels of protection. But, it’s important for all of us folks that work in the industry (I’m looking at you sales and marketing), but might not have the same level of technical chops, to get prepped before landing in Sin City next week. Oh, and if you are going, come check us out in Innovation City where we are making a bold promise, at least for a trade show; Zero Buzzwords…just a demo of our solution and a conversation about how it could help your company (email me direct if you want to set up a time).

Nine Tips for Protection During Black Hat/DEF CON

A big thanks to a bunch of folks who helped me put this list together, you are people I trust in the industry and you know how to communicate a sophisticated topic into a language we can all understand. Thanks for having my backs all these years!

  • If possible, bring and use only a burner laptop instead of your everyday laptop. There are plenty of inexpensive Chromebooks out there for you.
  • Delete all of the non WPA/WPA2 wifi SSIDs stored in your phones AND laptops before going to the conference(s), this is the easiest way to pop boxes and steal your user credentials.
    1. If you are on Mac OS X: Go to settings > networks > wifi > advanced…then delete all of your stored networks if they are not labeled WPA/WPA2.
  • Don’t connect to wifi hotspots in Vegas unless you 10000% trust it. Seriously, just don’t.
    1. Defcon & Black Hat provide WPA enterprise networks, which are relatively
  • Best practice to get online: Use your phone hotspot via USB cable.
  • There will be people sniffing wifi on your flight to Vegas… don’t use the airlines wifi during your trip (this is especially true if you’re flying out of Austin, Boston, San Francisco…)
  • Turn off wifi & bluetooth on your phones unless using
  • Turn off wifi & bluetooth on your computers unless using
  • Turn on disk encryption.
    1. You should always have FileVault turned on with anyways.  Again, for OS X to settings > security & privacy > FileVault and enable it…NOW.
  • Turn on your firewalls.
    1. If you are on OS X, go to settings > security & privacy > firewall and enable it…again, NOW.

What other tips would you provide for anyone attending Black Hat/DEF CON? Join the conversation on Twitter, @ZiftenInc with #BlackHatPrep.

See you in Vegas.

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