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Mixed Reactions to Apple’s BlackHat Security Talk

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Well, Apple’s talk at BlackHat has come and gone. The general consensus is that Dallas De Atley’s talk was incredibly underwhelming – the equivalent of reciting the whitepaper released earlier this year with a slide deck. De Atley also escaped off-stage immediately after his presentation, offering no chance for questions or chatting afterwards, much to the disappointment of all the attendees. But all things considered, the response from his audience has been surprisingly neutral.

Clearly there has been a sense of disappointment, which was cleverly described by Elinor Mills:

The vaunted Apple decided to show up after snubbing the event for 15 years. As manager of the platform security team at Apple, Dallas De Atley seemed to have everything a Black Hat attendee could want — popularity, experience, discriminating taste, a good sense of style, and a promising future. Playing hard to get only makes us want you more.

But 15 minutes in, I was ready for the check.

It seems most folks agree Apple gets points just for showing up. They made a step forward, which everyone seems to hope will be followed with yet more steps in the future. And in the grand scheme of thing, that approach will probably be more effective than excoriating Apple for not hitting a homerun on their first time out.

That being said, Twitter was full of people’s snark and disappointment rather than measured neutrality, as you might expect. It’s surprisingly deflating, watching the Twittersphere’s hopes being dashed in realtime.

I’m pretty sure this guy is psychic:

Hope springs eternal:

Getting topical, with an Olympic athlete reference:

So very sad! No one likes being rebuffed:

You know what else Hackers love? Sarcasm.

And of course, a pop-culture reference (for you Futurama fans):

Those of us in the security industry still have hope that this is just a slow start to what could be a very productive cooperation with Apple’s security team. Perhaps next year Apple will return to BlackHat with fresh material, and more importantly, they will allow discussion from the community about how we can work together to improve security. It will decidedly not be an easy or smooth road for them to allow this sort of openness, but then security never is an easy job.

What are your thoughts about Apple’s presentation? Do you expect they will continue to keep a tight rein on security information, or do you still hope this is only the beginning?