Defcon 16 Cometh: Hide Your Servers

By Jimmy Rogers
Contributing Writer, [GAS]

If you happen to find yourself in Las Vegas this weekend, make sure your wireless networks are protected and your firewall is engaged. It won’t really help you, but at least you’ll feel safer. Why the precautions? What could be going down in the desert to make your laptop shutter like that? Defcon is what’s going down.

Defcon 16

The hacker community at large is fairly well connected to itself, but it is equally decentralized. The more paranoid types like it this way because there isn’t a big hub to draw a lot of attention (negative or otherwise). Every year, though, this community comes together in a big celebration of everything hacker and tinkerer.

Defcon is a conference for hackers of any type to share their knowledge, listen to guest speakers, and compete for hacker glory. Events throughout the week include:

  • The Badge Hacking Contest – the conference badges are effectively circuitboards equipped with USB and SD card slots so you can make them do crazy stuff if you have skills.
  • The Black and White Ball – a dance of some kind named after the two basic types of hackers: Black (malicious) and White (friendly).
  • DefconBots Robot Contest – should be self-explanatory.
  • The LeetSkills Talent Competition – a talent show for the technically inclined
  • A Lockpicking Competition – for those who like to hack IRL.
  • Own The Box – a friendly competition for control of other users’ systems on a network- the Defcon forums describe it like so:
    • “Contestants bring an IP-enabled device, running some services
    • We invite all DefCon attendees to attack these services
    • ????
    • PROFIT”
  • Spot the Fed – the traditional contest to identify federal agents who are known to attend the conference undercover (usually the prize is a free shirt)

This year's hackable badge.
This year’s hackable badge. – Image from Wired/Dave Bullock

Of course there are many more events, contests, and exhibitions than those listed above. For the mega-geeks out there this will be the place to be. Plus, you wouldn’t want to miss the TCP/IP Drinking Game, right?

For more info on the contest, check out Defcon’s website, the forums, and this awesome article from Wired about the badge hacking contest.

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