Black Hat Changes Wi-Fi Vendors – The Network Will Still be HOSTILE

black hat 2013From the ‘Aruba Out/ Xirrus In’ files:

Two weeks to go until the big Black Hat security conference and I’ve just found out about a really big change. For the last several years, my first stop at any Black Hat event was the Wi-Fi control room/suite – run by Aruba Networks.

So this year, I reached out Aruba to get connected and found out that they aren’t the Wi-Fi vendor/service provider for 2013.

Instead, Xirrus has been selected as the Black Hat Wi-Fi vendor.

While this is a shift for the Black Hat conference, it’s not all that surprising either. UBM Tech (the organizer of the Black Hat event) also runs Interop. At Interop this year, Wi-Fi was provided by….yup you guessed it – Xirrus.

I met with Xirrus’ Mike Rydalch, principal technologist at. at Interop earlier this year. That’s a network that needs to deliver service to over 300 exhibitors, 10,000 wireless devices and on million square feet of space.

But that’s still not Black Hat.

I actually spoke with Rydalch at Interop about Black Hat – at the time neither he nor/I knew that Xirrus would be the Wi-Fi vendor there. It’s a challenge he told me he really wanted to embrace.

Black Hat is quite literally one of the most hostile networks on Earth. Rogue access points pop up all the time and people openly try to sniff each others traffic. Attacks both known (and likely a few unknown) occur on a alarmingly regular basis.

The fact that it’s a ‘new’ vendor (as opposed to the last several years), might perhaps represent a risk to some conference go-ers. Not me. I’ve seen how Rydalch commands a Wi-Fi network and I suspect though the network environment is hostile, Black Hat Wi-Fi will be a shining example of how secure Wi-Fi can be delivered.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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