Saturday, 13 August 2016

Here's what it's like at America's largest hacking convention.

For two days this month, I joined some of the best hackers and programmers in the world at the Paris Las Vegas hotel to attend the 24th annual DEF CON hacker convention.

And no, the hackers weren’t the kind of bespectacled 18-year olds who slouched over their computers in their parents’ dark basements tapping away at their keyboards with Cheetos dust-caked fingers. In fact, the only person at DEF CON who fit that description was, unfortunately, me. But I’m 31, so there’s that.

DEF CON is among the oldest and largest hacking conventions in the world. I’d never had the chance to attend before, so my only experience with the show came from second-hand sources who told me that going basically ensured that my phone and laptop would be hacked.

Since I’m incredibly paranoid, I left for DEF CON 24 with my personal phone in airplane mode and turned off and a “burner” phone that I set up using a fake email address.

Naturally, the majority of the people at DEF CON probably weren’t there to hack my phone. Many were probably more interested in understanding how to prevent malicious, or “black hat,” hackers from getting access to consumers’ private computers and online accounts. Others just wanted to hear about interesting technologies like bio-hacking.

There are, of course, some folks at DEF CON who want to hack anyone they can for either fun, to give the person a reminder that they need to be more careful with their online security or just be a jerk and steal their information.

But DEF CON isn’t just a place for hackers. The conference is also frequented by corporate security experts who want to learn about the latest attacks hackers can launch against their companies and government officials looking to find out more information about potential threats to government infrastructure and networks.

While at DEF CON I used a secondary burner phone to connect to the convention’s open public Wi-Fi network that with the hope that I would be hacked and get to see what it’s like to be “pwned” by the best hackers around.

But despite using the phone on an unsecured network, I never noticed anything amiss and didn’t see my name on DEF CON’s Wall of Sheep, which keeps track of attendees who have been hacked at the show.

Fortunately, that means is I’ll have to go back next year to try again. And I can’t wait.

By Daniel Howley.
Culled from Yahoo News.

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