10 Ways to Get Noticed at Black Hat

Hint: If blue wigs and aluminum-foil hats don’t work, try free beer

Black Hat 2014

Some of the more eccentric members of the security industry show up for Black Hat each year, making it tough to stand out in the enormous crowd that flocks to Las Vegas for the A-list conference. But each year vendors manage to come up with gimmicks and gizmos that attract the throngs to their booths to hear a spiel or give up their contact information so they can receive sales calls when they get home. Here are some noteworthy examples from Black Hat 2014.

Black Hat 2014
Free digital caricatures

IBM hired caricaturist Doug Shannon to draw visitors who stopped by the booth. Here he shakes hands with Alain Hernandez, a worker for Terramark in Miami, whose picture he has just drawn.

Black Hat 2014
Free books

Attendees lined up for complementary copies of the book Hacking Exposed at the Cigital booth. Here co-author Joel Scambray autographs the last copy.

Black Hat 2014
Free beer

Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, as they say in the theme song to the classic TV sitcom Cheers. Authentify borrowed from that theme at its booth where they served up cups of beer under a sign that read “Where everyone knows your username & password.”

Black Hat 2014
Light-up sunglasses

You don’t see bright green sunglasses that light up everywhere you go, and that’s what Cisco was counting on. In order to get passersby to stop and fill out a security survey, the company was giving away the glasses in a shade like the one that is the signature for its Alien Vault logo.

Black Hat 2014
Aluminum hats

Nothing says security paranoia like an aluminum hat, and Securonix played that up by placing one on the head of Rocky Fain, who tried to lure show-goers into the company booth. A cartoon character of a kid who’s also a CISO named Vinnie and also wears an aluminum hat is the mascot for the company.

Black Hat 2014
Sumo stress relievers

What more appropriate token for Black Hat attendees who stopped by the Sumo Logic booth than their own sumo wrestler to take home? They were made of foam and meant to be squeezed to relieve stress.

Black Hat 2014
Blue wigs

EnCase hired models in blue wigs and shiny costumes to draw traffic to its booth. If they weren’t enough, they were also handing out ray guns in exchange for watching a product presentation.

Black Hat 2014
Hovercraft raffle

Having a quadrocopter hovering in the aisle on the show floor was certainly one way to draw attention, but Lieberman Software went a step further and raffled off two of them during the show to those who filled out a questionnaire.

Black Hat 2014
T-shirts, beer, wine and glassware

Helena Brill and Chris Orr of Tripwire model two of the t-shirt designs being given customer printed and passed out at their booth. The artwork played off the TV shows Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones. They’re standing in front of the glassware to be used later during the company’s open beer-and-wine bar.

Black Hat 2014
Battle axes

Everybody likes toy weapons, and visitors to the Verisign booth could collect a plastic battle ax for the asking. Here’s one being offered up by Christina Sinclair who was working the booth for the company.