Black Hat Conference Vendors Use Cybersecurity Marketing Theme to Gain Attendees’ Attention

By James Lint

Senior Editor for InCyberDefense and Contributor, In Homeland Security

Many vendors and cybersecurity companies attend the Black Hat USA 2018 conference. The world’s leading annual information security event took place in Las Vegas August 5–9.

Vendors have many reasons to get the attention of conference attendees. Often, they want to sell services or equipment targeted to their audience or they want to recruit new employees.

Competition for employees is stiff in the cybersecurity realm. Cybersecurity professionals are in demand to fulfill the needs of all the companies trying to succeed in this industry. In some cases, there are even salary wars for job candidates with specialized skills.

Standing Out from Other Vendors at Black Hat USA 2018 Conference

With approximately 300 vendors at Black Hat, attracting the attention of attendees was no easy feat. Vendors used multiple attention grabbers.

One company gave away small fans that lit up with the company name as the fan blades spun around. Another vendor distributed notebooks, laptop camera covers and even a red, four-winged boomerang made from a flexible foam material.

There were many T-shirts given away with attention-getting slogans that matched the cybersecurity theme of the conference.

Some vendors had a unique approach. They offered attendees a choice of several slogans. The slogan was then screen-printed on the shirt for its new owner.

One Memorable Vendor Took Blockchain Literally

The concept of a blockchain is difficult for many people to understand. It is often frustrating for college professors, IT employees and cybersecurity professionals to explain what a blockchain is to others.

Investopedia describes a blockchain as “a digitized, decentralized, public ledger of all cryptocurrency transactions.” Constantly growing as ‘completed’ blocks, the most recent transactions are recorded and added to the blockchain in chronological order; this allows market participants to keep track of digital currency transactions without central recordkeeping. Each node (a computer connected to the network) gets a copy of the blockchain, which is downloaded automatically.

Like other vendors, Polyswarm handed out T-shirts. These were attention-getters due to their unusual, bright purple color that matched the company’s website and social media sites.

But Polyswarm took the additional step of handing out individual blockchain pendants on metal necklaces. The blockchain pendants were decorated on both sides with the company logo.

Vendor Marketing at Conferences Requires Creativity and Memorable Company Branding

When a company competes against hundreds of other vendors on a conference floor, its marketers must bring their A game. Polyswarm’s use of a physical blockchain was particularly brilliant. Thousands of cyber professionals across the world will see that company name and start conversations about the meaning of blockchain.

About the Author

James R. Lint retired as the (GG-15) civilian director for intelligence and security, G2, U.S. Army Communications Electronics Command. James has been involved in cyberespionage events from just after the turn of the century in Korea supporting 1st Signal Brigade to the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis as the first government cyber intelligence analyst. He has 38 years of experience in military intelligence with the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Army, government contracting and civil service.

Additionally, James started the Lint Center for National Security Studies, a nonprofit charity that recently awarded its 51st scholarship for national security students and professionals. James was also elected as the 2015 national vice president for the Military Intelligence Corps Association. He has also served in the Department of Energy’s S&S Security Office after his active military career in the Marine Corps for seven years and 14 years in the Army. His military assignments include South Korea, Germany and Cuba, in addition to numerous CONUS locations. In 2017, he was appointed to the position of Adjutant for The American Legion, China Post 1. James has authored a book published in 2013, “Leadership and Management Lessons Learned,” a book published in 2016 “8 Eyes on Korea, A Travel Perspective of Seoul, Korea,” and a new book in 2017 “Secrets to Getting a Federal Government Job.”