A chat with Black Hat's unconventional keynote speaker

"The most interesting thing about Black Hat 2015 keynote speaker Jennifer Granick isn't her gender -- though she appears against a backdrop of historically male keynotes. It's that Granick is director of civil liberties at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society. She previously held the same position at the Electronic Frontier Foundation -- and is known for defending some of the more notorious criminal hackers around, including Kevin Poulsen, Aaron Swartz, Jerome Heckenkamp and the hackers in the Diebold Election Systems case. Being the keynote speaker at the Black Hat conference means she's about to go front and center with the very organizations and government entities her clients have hacked. Granick is joining a colorful catalog of former keynoters who tend to represent the interests of the international cybersecurity conference's corporate-enterprise and government attendees.

In 2010, Black Hat had its first female keynote, Jane Holl Lute, who served at the time as the deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Lute's first comment about the nature of cyberspace set the tone for her keynote, which was, in characteristic DHS cybersecurity style, tone-deaf to attendee levels of expertise.

Lute began, "How do cyberspace and war zones compare? Wars happen somewhere. They involve somebody. Geography is key. Seizing and holding terrain. Wars happen somewhere, but cyberspace is sort of this space-time thing. Nobody really gets it."

Needless to say, the two women couldn't be more different from each other -- and Granick couldn't be more different from Black Hat's typical keynote choices. Curious to see what she had to say about adding her name to Black Hat's storied keynote history, Engadget caught up with Granick for a quick Q&A before she hits the stage.

In Black Hat's keynote history, you're one of only two women to be an esteemed Black Hat keynote. Does this matter?

I think it does. I hope I start a flood of future keynotes by any number of the many great women in computer security.

In a refreshing twist, Cosmopolitan UK upended gender roles for their Avengersinterview with Scarlett Johansson and Mark Ruffalo. Instead of the stereotypical questions Johansson was tired of getting, the magazine instead asked Ruffalo about his skincare routine, his red carpet outfits and whether he slimmed down for the role. How do you anticipate handling questions a male keynote would never get?

I have an advantage in this community because I'm a lawyer and not a security professional. People don't tend to think they already know everything I have to say. So they tend to take talking to me as an opportunity to ask real questions. I'll try to think of a funny joke, though, just in case someone asks about my beauty regime. (By the way, it's chia seeds. ... Was that funny?)"