Microsoft aims to host regular hacker meetings

Making company's offerings more secure is goal for Blue Hat events

Microsoft is working on plans to make a recent hacker meeting held on its Redmond, Washington, campus a twice-yearly event, according to a spokesman for the vendor's security group.

The company plans to host another Blue Hat security event in the fall, though no specific date has been set, Stephen Toulouse, a program manager in Microsoft's security unit, said on Monday. Fall in North America usually refers to September through November.

"We're looking at doing this again in the future," he said of the two-day event, which was held in March. "As we continue to engage with security researchers, we’ve become more comfortable getting into these face-to-face interactions with them."

The Blue Hat event's name is a reference to the annual Black Hat security conference, with the color in the title changed to blue because that is the color of the badges Microsoft employees wear on campus. This year's Black Hat meeting in the U.S. was held last week in Las Vegas.

In sessions at the initial Microsoft Blue Hat event, security researchers demonstrated to both Microsoft executives and developers how flaws in the software giant's products could be exploited.

In one presentation, hackers set up a wireless network and showed how a laptop running Windows XP Service Pack 2 could be lured into joining a potentially malicious network, Toulouse said.

Demonstrating these kinds of possible security holes really hit home with product developers, which is why Microsoft wants to host the event regularly, he said.

"There was a moment where everything just stopped," Toulouse said of the wireless network presentation. "You've got guys in the audience who wrote that code ... Some of the things developers coming out of the talks were expressing [were] great ideas to go off and change the way products are [developed] to make sure this won't happen again."

This kind of reaction from developers is in line with Microsoft's ultimate goal for the Blue Hat events, which is to help make Microsoft's product line as a whole more secure, he added.

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