Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

LAS VEGAS — At this week's Black Hat cybersecurity conference, panels about hacking automobiles and airplane WiFi are being interspersed with a new focus: mental health.

Why it matters: Issues like anxiety and depression aren't new in the cybersecurity field, and stress is rampant: pros work long hours under enormous pressure to protect critical networks from ever-increasing threats. Black Hat's new focus on the people, not just the technology, may instigate broader industry changes.

The big picture: The leading cybersecurity conference has long had conference tracks like cryptography, forensics and incident response. This will mark the first year the "community" track joins that roster to provide a place to talk about less technical, more human issues.

  • Black Hat has a large industry presence, and shining a light on topics that tend to be discussed outside the corporate eye — things like suicide, stress load, mental illness and trauma — may force major employers in the field to think about those issues, too.
  • "Good conferences are a reflection of the community," said Black Hat General Manager Steve Wylie. "We have a responsibility to the community."
  • Wylie said they received more speaking proposals on the topics than speaking slots available, which he said indicated a strong response.

Mental illness and suicide: "In the past year I know several people in the community have taken their own lives," said Jay Radcliffe of Boston Scientific. "It’s a sad thing, and something I feel responsible to talk about." Radcliffe, well known for hacking devices, will be presenting about his own experience with depression with Christian Dameff, an emergency medicine physician.

  • "With global staffing shortages in information security, we're seeing departments that should have 10 people work with 5. And that increases stress," said Radcliffe.
  • Anecdotal evidence suggests high prevalence of mental illness in the information security community, perhaps heightened by the hacker subculture attracting people from a variety of backgrounds, some of which may involve preexisting mental health conditions.
  • A separate presentation will discuss the high instance of autism in the field.

Stress: Two researchers from the National Security Agency, Celeste Paul and Josiah Dykstra, will release NSA data on the effect of stress on operator performance and how to combat it. "We did see effects," said Paul.

Post-tramatic stress disorder: Cybersecurity also draws a wide array of ex-military members, including Dragos Security's Joe Slowik, who served in the Navy.

  • Slowik will talk about his experience with PTSD.
  • "The talk itself was a spur-of-the-moment reaction to an article on 'cybersecurity PTSD,' which the author was using to mean burnout from all of the breaches," he said. "Seeing terminology come up in a way that was almost flippant bothered me."

Sexual assault: Slowik notes that PTSD isn't exclusive to ex-military practitioners. Cybersecurity, like other industries, has faced a reckoning in recent years as victims of sexual assault and harassment have come forward.

  • Makenzie Peterson, coordinator for wellness programs at Hampshire College, will discuss how communities on the whole move forward after widespread allegations of sexual assault.

The bottom line: The community track is a chance to change the industry. "There’s such a talent shortage right now that companies may need to take advantage of community track to recruit employees," said Radcliffe.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled Joe Slowik's name. The story has been updated.

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden adviser Cedric Richmond sees first-term progress on reparations

Illustration: "Axios on HBO"

White House senior adviser Cedric Richmond told "Axios on HBO" that it's "doable" for President Biden to make first-term progress on breaking down barriers for people of color, while Congress studies reparations for slavery.

Why it matters: Biden said on the campaign trail that he supports creation of a commission to study and develop proposals for reparations — direct payments for African-Americans.

Cyber CEO: Next war will hit regular Americans online

Any future real-world conflict between the United States and an adversary like China or Russia will have direct impacts on regular Americans because of the risk of cyber attack, Kevin Mandia, CEO of cybersecurity company FireEye, tells "Axios on HBO."

What they're saying: "The next conflict where the gloves come off in cyber, the American citizen will be dragged into it, whether they want to be or not. Period."

Cedric Richmond: We won't wait on GOP for "insufficient" stimulus

Top Biden adviser Cedric Richmond told "Axios on HBO" the White House believes it has bipartisan support for a stimulus bill outside the Beltway.

  • "If our choice is to wait and go bipartisan with an insufficient package, we are not going to do that."

The big picture: The bill will likely undergo an overhaul in the Senate after House Democrats narrowly passed a stimulus bill this weekend, reports Axios' Kadia Goba.