At RSA 2018, Bateman Group Builds a Misinformation Madhouse

Five years ago, Bateman Group organized a happy hour for journalists, hackers and researchers looking for refuge from the big impersonal parties that dot the RSA landscape. In 2014, following allegations that the NSA paid RSA to use encryption in its products that it was able to crack, the party took on the “Backdoor” moniker.   

Over the years, national and international security news and events have influenced the party’s theme, from drink names to interactive games and party favors. For RSA 2018, in partnership with HackerOne, we drew inspiration from all the headlines over the past year about misinformation campaigns on social media sites that have created a mistrustful and polarizing environment in the U.S.

Someone once said: “Sometimes crying or laughing are the only options left, and laughing feels better right now.” If there’s one group that can understand that, it’s hackers. With that in mind, we introduced some tongue-in-cheek lightness to the party in the form of rigged carnival games, vulnerable to hacking and faux followers. Guests interacted with a security-related cat-meme spewing fortune teller, a whack-a-bug booth, a troll farm race and a “Test Your Brute Force Strength” hammer striker.

More than two hundred revelers, including journalists from New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Fortune and Ars Technica, stopped by to drink libations with names like “Bitcoin Bitters,” “Rumsomware” and “GDPR-ty Cocktail,” and to play the carnival-themed games. Five people beat the game, despite the built-in flaws designed as obstacles to simulate real-world online frustrations. Winners got stuffed squirrels, which insiders know to be the biggest unsung cyber threats to the nation’s energy infrastructure.

We hope to see you at RSA next year, with misinformation madness far behind us!