A Conversation with the founder of Hack In The Box Conference


The HITB Amsterdam is around the corner and our team got to have a chat with the Founder (Dhillon Andrew Kannabhiran) of HITB to explore more about this year’s Conference. We hope you guys like it and read till the end for a discount code for the attendees. 

Dhillon Andrew Kannabhiran (@l33tdawg on Twitter) is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Hack in The Box (http://www.hitb.org), organizer of the HITBSecConf series of network security conferences which has been held annually for over a decade in various countries including Malaysia, The Netherlands, and the UAE.


Security Happenings: Hey Dhillon, Congratulations for coming up with the new season of HITB Amsterdam. Firstly, its amazing to see a new season of HITB Amsterdam coming up, as the security community has always been very excited about HITB Conferences.


  1. What’s new with this season of HITB.

The format of event still remains the same with intensive hands-on trainings for the first couple of days followed by our 2-day conference which features both 60 and 120 minute hands on sessions. We’re also expanding our industry exhibition area and adding a hardware hacking village, an AI and Blockchain related area plus a lot more contests and challenges for people to play with. Some of the prizes up for grabs even include a trip to Hong Kong!

Along side this, we will also have our usual CommSec track – another area that is free to attend with 30-minute talks that we are proud to say does not include any vendor talks or marketing lectures. Talks will also be live streamed on our Youtube channel for those who can’t make it over (or if the room is too packed).

We’ve also got some very interesting keynote speakers for the main conference, with Marion Marschalek from Intel set to deliver the opening keynote on the 12th of April, Jennifer Legio keynoting for us on Day 2 and Amber Baldet, Executive Director and Blockchain Program Lead at J.P. Morgan delivering the closing keynote. Needless to say, we’re very excited about this.

  1. Any interesting hot topics or trainings you feel to look ahead for, during this season of HITB Amsterdam?

Lots! We’re running 7 trainings this year and all of them are filling up pretty fast. I’m especially excited about the AI and Machine Learning for Hackers training, as I have a personal interest in AI and ML stuff.

As far as talks go, there are always several that are going to be ‘big’ and this year is certainly no exception. I’m personally looking forward to seeing Don Bailey’s talk on attacks against secure elements which would allow for an adversary to impersonate any device on the network. There’s also a new data exfiltration attack called Ghost Tunnel being presented by the Qihoo360’s Unicorn Team that should be absolutely fantastic. Somewhat similar to the NSA’s COTTON MOUTH attack, they’re going to show a new hardware implant they’ve developed which provides a wireless bridge into a target machine.

  1. The Capture the Flag event of HITB has always been in the limelight for it being pretty hard to crack, so what are the kind of challenges the players would be breaking their head this time for 😉

The CTF has always been a crowd puller and this year’s game will be amped up even more as the Dutch HITB CTF team will be collaborating with the folks from xCTF out of China, so teams can expect a lot of interesting challenges to solve and a new awesome score board to check out.

We’re also going to have an online pre-qualification CTF for teams wanting to participate in our contest in Singapore in August. The online pre-quals will run alongside the on-site CTF in Amsterdam, so even if you can’t be in physically present, you’ll still be able to play. More details on the pre qualification contest and how to sign up will be posted on the Amsterdam CTF page:



  1. We hear you guys are also adding on more contests and things for people to play with in the exhibition area. Can you tell us more about that?

We’ve always loved having interactive / hands on exhibits so there are things for attendees to do outside of listening to talks.

This year, in addition to the usual lock picking village by TOOOL Netherlands and the soldering village by Mitch Altman, we’ve also got a new hardware hacking village being run by the guys from VXRL, a reverse engineering challenge by Beyond Security (with a chance to go to Hong Kong), and a SCADA CTF by Applied Risk. Also, the guys from Qihoo’s Unicorn Team designed the conference badge for us this year and they’ll be hosting a badge hacking area too.

  1. Where do you see the Information Security Community heading towards in terms of new areas of research?

Definitely mobile focused research, threat intelligence and IoT are hot areas at the moment though we’re starting to see more talks dealing with machine learning and deep learning applied to both attack and defense methods. There’s also of course plenty of interest in blockchain and smart contracts, so I expect to see more focus there also. It’s also interesting to note the increase of research coming out of China – also explains why we’re organizing our first event in Beijing in October!

  1. And seems like the tickets are selling like hot cakes, most of our readers and subscribers are still looking out for tickets and passes for HITB, are there still any ways they could get a discount? 😉

We’ve still got a handful of tickets available for both the paid conference and the free commsec track. There will always be space in the track rooms – you just need to show up early! If you’re interested in signing up for a training or for the paid conference, we’ve got a 10% discount code (HITB2018AMS-SECHAPPENS) for Security Happening readers to enjoy. See you guys in Amsterdam!

Woah! That’s amazing, Im sure our readers would be really happy now. Thanks a lot for answering these questions, we wish all the very best to you and to the HITB team.

Thanks for taking the time as well! We’re looking forward to seeing your readers either in Amsterdam, Singapore or Beijing!

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