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Month: January 2018

Going Back to BlackHat!

For the last three years, I have had the honor and privilege of teaching a data science class at the BlackHat conference in Las Vegas.  Well, I found out yesterday that I’ll be going back for a fourth year!   Together with my amazing colleague Austin Taylor (@HuntOperator), we will be teaching Applied Data Science and Machine Learning for Cyber Security.  It turns out that this is the only class at BlackHat this year about data science or machine learning!

Teaching a class at BlackHat is really a great experience, and quite terrifying at the same time.  You’re presenting a class to the best of the best in security, so you really have to know your stuff.  From my experience, the students are really on top of their game so it makes for very interesting and engaging sessions.

What’s New for This Year

This year’s class I have to say, will be the best one yet.  We’ve developed a lot of new material including a lesson about improving the performance of models, beaconing detection with Austin’s Flare library, anomaly detection with K-Means clustering and more.  I’ll be posting more about the course as we get closer to the event, but if you have any questions or requests, please let me know!  If you’re interested, don’t wait, register now!

 

 

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Home Automation Update

One of my most popular posts is a tutorial I wrote two years ago about automating a gas fireplace and I get a lot of questions about home automation, so thought I’d write an update to that tutorial and review some products I’ve bought in the last two years.

My Original Goal

When I originally started seeing all the home automation products that were coming out, my original interest in them was to see what kind of data these devices gathered about their owners and I ended up giving two presentations on this topic at the Strata Conferences in New York and London.  With all that said, for my research I wanted to be able to control the functionality of my home with my phone.  After buying a bunch of devices, I was really disappointed.  At the time, I wasn’t able to automate any lighting because my home was built in the 1920s and none of the light switches had a neutral wire–a requirement for Z-Wave switches.  After we moved to a newer home, and I started automating lights and installing other automation devices, the thing that really frustrated me was the difficulty in getting all the devices to work together.  I had high hopes for IFTTT, (and still do) but at the time, it seemed like it was a half-assed workaround.

I also was very disappointed with the available security systems.  At the time, the choices were pretty much limited to systems which required you to pay rather steep monthly “monitoring fees” to some company and use rather low-tech devices, or half-baked products that did appear promising but seemed to be MVPs at best.

So what changed?  I can answer that in one word: Alexa.

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