Black Hat Middle East & Africa (MEA) is relocating to the Riyadh Exhibition & Convention Centre, as it looks to record huge growth in floor space, exhibitors, national and industry pavilions, and speakers. Running from November 14-16, this year’s event will take place under the tagline ‘Infosec on the Edge’. Organised by Tahaluf, an Informa Business in partnership with the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming and Drones (SAFCSP), Black Hat MEA will be 41 per cent bigger than its 2022 launch edition and has already seen a 119 per cent uplift in early-day visitor registrations.
“Prominent CISOs, C-level executives, IT directors, and government officials have registered to explore new business opportunities, innovative learning and networking that will set the blueprints for successful preparation against existing and new threats in the new digital era of AI,” said Michael Champion, Chief Executive Officer of Tahaluf, organisers of Black Hat MEA. “With 70 per cent of our 2022 exhibitors having rebooked, we are well on course to beat last year’s launch event outputs, which included more than 30,000 attendees, 182 exhibitors, and more than 250 speakers. This year we are forecasting more than 300 exhibitors from 120 countries, making it the region’s largest cybersecurity event, and the most attended in the world.”
Black Hat MEA 2023 will be an unparalleled knowledge-sharing platform with a speaker cast of more than 300 international experts partaking in a host of interactive workshops, certified training programmes, and a stellar Executive Summit featuring some of the biggest names across the global entertainment, finance, hospitality, aviation, electronics, defence, and FMCG sectors. The confirmed line-up already includes CISOs from Huawei, Netflix, Uber, and Zoom among others.
“These are the experts who protect critical infrastructure and digital assets used en-masse for the good of society and to protect organisations at risk of security breaches from hostile state actors or criminal entities,” added Champion. “Their insights are invaluable to anyone charged with overseeing or developing cybersecurity strategies for organisations across the entire economic and public service ecosystem.”
Expertly curated content will see the speakers scrutinise the most pertinent issues impacting the sector, from generative AI and machine learning to compliance and regulations, identity, and access management. Privacy and data protection, business and risk management, emerging cyber threats, and incident response and recovery will come under the microscope too, alongside talent management and security culture, IoT security and hacking, supply chain risk, and software supply chain, as well as the growing role of women in the cyber sector.
Returning to the stage to discuss these key topics is David B. Cross, Senior Vice President, and Chief Information Security Officer of Oracle SaaS Cloud. “I am very excited to attend and speak again at Blackhat MEA which is an amazing and immersive personal and professional experience for all security business, operations, and engineering leaders. The energy, collaboration and insights gained from my experience from Blackhat MEA 2022 last year is a driver to help take the security community to the next level in this deeply technical and hands forum unlike any other,” said Cross.
Spire Solutions, a strategic partner and long-time exhibitor of the show have identified key security challenges and opportunities to help organizations accelerate growth and will be showcasing an array of solutions focused on big data and cybersecurity.
“Taking part in Black Hat MEA once again gives us unrivalled opportunities to meet customers and partners, drive business objectives and share innovative ideas. As we expand beyond the MENA region, our expertise and critical cybersecurity solutions can support organisations across untapped African regions, optimising security performance and mitigating risks. At Black Hat 2023, we will be showcasing solutions that tackle key security challenges, from cyber threat intelligence to API security and IT & Operations management. In the face of growing cyber threats, we remain committed to empowering government and private sector organisations with proactive and robust cybersecurity measures,” said Sanjeev Walia, Founder and President, Spire Solutions.
The trade show positions itself as a powerhouse of information, products, services, and solutions that inform the wider cybersecurity sector, by bringing in specialists from the biggest brands around the globe. Exhibiting this year is Snap Inc., the enterprise that owns Snapchat, one of the most widely used social media applications with up to 280 million daily active users worldwide. With great power comes great responsibility and the company claims it has a strong commitment to privacy.
“Information Security is a global problem and is not bound by any country or regional borders. I believe it can only be solved with cooperation and open communication between our diverse communities, and Black Hat MEA is a key platform to facilitate these critical discussions and bring together the global infosec ecosystem to find tangible solutions. I am very excited to be a part of the upcoming edition to help foster education and drive awareness alongside a very talented community,” said Jim Higgens, Chief Information Security Officer at Snapchat
Black Hat is a space where visitors can maximise their time and exhibitors can network and unearth new opportunities for partnerships and collaboration. This year’s edition will also see members of Black Hat MEA’s exclusive CISO Club invited to join the inaugural CISO Chapter, wherein over 500 end-user CISOs from across the region and beyond will receive various insights leading up to the event as well as, among other benefits, access to lounges, boardrooms, and brainstorming workshops aimed at helping overcome industry challenges.
Also new is Black Hat Campus, a bespoke matchmaking area aimed both at investors and startups that will feature podcasts and webinar sessions dedicated to cybersecurity investment. It will also host three special investor panels live on stage, as well as the launch of the first Black Hat MEA 966 Chapter, which is set to mastermind social activities and meet-ups for the Kingdom’s ethical hackers and security leaders’ network.
Meanwhile, CyberSeed is Black Hat MEA’s ground-breaking startup pitch competition and will be expanded this year with more awards, prizes, and cybersecurity champions. From an application pool numbering in the hundreds, 20 startups will be selected by a judging panel of high-powered investors and industry experts to compete on-site in the CyberSeed Semi-Finals.
Each startup can enter one of four award categories: Innovative Ideator for startups who are pre-revenue but with fantastic potential and ready to make a first jump into the market; Shining Seedling for early-stage, revenue-generating startups under five years old and with less than five staff worth under US$5m; Established Excellence for larger, more experienced companies; and Saudi Superstar, which is aimed at enhancing the profile of cybersecurity talent in the Kingdom. The top two startups from each category will qualify for the Grand Finale on November 16, where they will face off against one another live on the Executive Summit stage for a chance to be crowned the winner.
New for 2023, each of the 20 semi-finalists will be assigned a mentor, a cybersecurity expert whose role is to support contestants through advice sessions, webinars, and in-person masterclasses before the event, increasing their chances of victory. To promote equal opportunities in cybersecurity, an additional award will be given to the highest-scoring female-led startup, advancing at least to the semi-final stage.
In the Black Hat MEA Arsenal, developers will demonstrate the latest open-source tools and products in an open, conversational environment wherein presenters will interact with attendees and provide hands-on experiences. ToolsWatch is partnering the Arsenal sessions with information security experts passing on new industry tricks and trends, while hackers will demonstrate the latest breach techniques in the Activity Zone.
“This event covers the entire spectrum of current and evolving issues impacting a sector that now infiltrates every industry, every organisation, and many households everywhere,” concluded Champion. “Cybersecurity is no longer just an IT issue; it is now a board-room agenda issue on which the success of any organisation can depend. Failure to keep pace with the rapid speed of transformation is a risk too far. Black Hat MEA is where the region comes together to ensure it remains at the vanguard of cybersecurity for the safety of all.”