Zalud’s Blog has learned that, on Wednesday, August 6, Symantec commissioned an anonymous survey to explore Black Hat attendee’s views on vulnerability research and the challenges and opportunities they anticipate they will face over the next twelve months. The survey was administered by Applied Research onsite at Black Hat and the initial data collected reflects responses from 500 attendees.

The Black Hat convention was attended mostly by IT managers and independent researchers; mostly in the high tech industry within North America.

Black Hat is attracting an international audience with 18% of conference attendees joining from other regions outside North America.

  • 46% of respondents believe web services and web 2.0 technologies are considered to be technologies that will contain the top security issues next year. This is closely followed by virtualization (35%) being a top security concern.
  • The main sources of data theft are as follows: insufficient access controls (26%); lost/stolen laptops (23%); data sent to third parties (21%); and improper posting of data to the Internet, intranet, and extranet (20%).
  • About a third (34%) are currently implementing whitelisting within their organization.
  • All enterprise systems are considered to be quite critical in protecting with whitelisting, with servers surpassing other enterprise systems slightly.
  • Job function (52%) and curiosity (44%) typically motivates researching an application or technology.
  • The majority (55%) have not created any piece of malcode in the name of research or education. However, 17% of respondents claim they would create malware if they thought it helpful for research or their education.
  • Web technologies are the greatest concern from a vulnerability perspective among IT managers. 
  • Windows XP platform is the operating system of greatest concern to IT managers. In 2007 IT managers were more concerned of Vista vulnerabilities.
  • The majority (49%) of researchers plan to pursue research on infrastructure networking technology in the next year followed by web technologies (34%).