PHDays VII: The Standoff Continues

  • October 26, 2016

    Today marks the official start of preparations for the seventh Positive Hack Days international security forum. The event will be held on May 23–24, 2017 at the World Trade Center in Moscow, Russia. As in past years, attendees will represent a diverse cross-section of security, with hackers, developers, security experts, business and government figures, and young scientists joined by specialists from finance, telecom, oil and gas, industrial, and IT companies. And as always, surprises are in store for both guests and participants—but more about that a bit later.

    More than just presentations and discussions of security topics, PHDays has long offered a staging ground for the most daring experiments in the field. Event organizers, as always, work to minimize advertising and promotion while maximizing interesting presentations, real-world usefulness, and hands-on competitions.

    The theme of PHDays VII is “The Standoff: Enemy Inside”. While futurologists were scaring us with visions of Big Brother and The Terminator, our enemies have taken a most unexpected form: an enormous number of digital devices omnipresent in our homes, pockets, streets, and offices. Cars, payment terminals, smart home sensors, children's toys, and even surveillance cameras which were supposed to keep us safe—all these are now weapons in the hands of hackers. We are, quite literally, surrounded. How can we fight an enemy when there is no front line and even our coffee machine may stab us in the back? We will try to find the answer at PHDays.

    At PHDays VI in 2016, we offered a new paradigm for the hacking competition: a no-holds-barred cyberbattle between attackers and defenders. Instead of abstract quizzes, participants were given specific objectives to accomplish. Now we are making the setting even more realistic, with the battlefield consisting of a city where pentesters will try to take control of city infrastructure and smart appliances. Social engineering will target team members and even ordinary visitors at PHDays VII. The hackers defeated in the previous Standoff will undoubtedly seek revenge. But who's to say that there can be only two sides to a battle?

    The competition will be “spiced up” with new hackable objects, more action, day/night scenarios, and social engineering. According to Timur Yunusov, Head of the Banking System Security Unit at Positive Technologies and member of the PHDays organizing committee, the main roles—hackers, defenders, and SOC—will remain the same. But Standoff participants will now include professional pentesters. The remainder of the competition will focus on city infrastructure, where participants can try to hack industrial control systems, a telecom company and bank, the Internet of Things, and network equipment. Event partners will help in laying the technical groundwork for the Standoff. Nobody can know the outcome of the competition in advance, but one thing is clear: more twists and turns mean more excitement for everyone.

    Participants will also be able to hear interesting presentations, attend workshops, and discuss IT security topics with leading industry specialists. Conversations will concentrate less on generalizations, and more on practical solutions for improving security.

    “This time around we plan to focus even more on innovations in techniques for hacking and applying security in practice. Our objective is for government, business, and industry to each contribute to the dialog on how to respond to the latest threats. Conversation will center on the Internet of Things, the combination of the IoT and SCADA, development of security solutions, and SSDL approaches. Above all, the greatest value we see in the conference is bringing everybody to the table: business executives, IT and security professionals, developers, SOC specialists, and so many others. As always, we have made sure that both technical and business aspects are reflected so that the management and technical sides hear each other and identify new opportunities for building more secure and reliable IT systems,” said Alexey Kachalin, Deputy Director of Business Development in Russia at Positive Technologies and member of the PHDays organizing committee.

    Interested in presenting? The first call for presenters will open soon. Stay tuned! In the meantime, feel free to view the best presentations from PHDays VI.

    Over 14,000 people have visited the forum over the last six years. PHDays VI set a new record, with 4,200 visitors. Don’t miss your chance to take part!

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