Apple’s First Appearance At Black Hat Security Conference Was “Very, Very Meh”

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Apple's head of platform security, Dallas De Atley, spoke at Black Hat yesterday.
Apple's head of platform security, Dallas De Atley, spoke at Black Hat yesterday.

Apple isn’t known for attending trade shows. Apple especially isn’t known for attending conferences that revolve around security research and the hacking community. That’s why it was a huge surprise when it was revealed that Apple would be making its first ever appearance at the Black Hat security conference this year. Dallas De Atley, Apple’s head security guru, was slated to give a talk on iOS, the company’s mobile operating system.

You’d think that De Atley’s talk would be pretty interesting, right? Unfortunately, attendees weren’t very impressed.

After refusing to attend Black Hat for 15 years, Apple is trying to warm up to the security research crowd now. Given the rise of public iOS and OS X security exploits, it makes sense for the folks in Cupertino to start acknowledging conferences like Black Hat.

During De Atley’s hour-long talk yesterday titled “iOS Security,” he simply walked through Apple’s iOS security white paper that was published for everyone to see earlier this year. According to VentureBeat, De Atley simply “reviewed the process of protecting phones from the very bottom of the operating system up through to app-protections, and into the most obvious security feature: the passcode.” While such a talk would probably be interesting to the common iOS user, the kind of security professionals that attend Black Hat expect more. “The Dark Art of iOS Application Hacking” talk that was being given by hackers in another room at Black Hat during De Atley’s presentation was undoubtedly more fascinating.

According to The New York Times:

But as Mr. De Atley’s talk wrapped up, bored facial expressions belied that he had disclosed anything new. One audience member summed up the general reaction on Twitter: “It was very, very meh.”

Elinor Mills of CNET felt disappointed after the talk as well:

Atley was in a hurry to leave afterward and didn’t have a question-and-answer session as is customary. I thought maybe some private sweet talk from me could open him up, but he claimed he had an appointment and his entourage quickly shuffled him out the door. There was a universal sense of deflation in the room and we all went back to our lives.

Apple’s presence at Black Hat this year was more of a symbolic gesture than anything. One shouldn’t expect much from the most tight-lipped technology company in the world, but the fact that De Atley got on stage showed something important: Apple is paying more attention to security than ever before.

Image: VentureBeat