In addition to Penn and Teller, writers from MAD magazine, a multitude of reporters, a multi-fold increase in the number of “friendly” representatives from U.S. Federal Agencies, and of course hackers and crackers by the thousands, this year’s DEF CON 19 in Las Vegas saw an unusual sight: kids.
CBSNews Tech says there were as many as 60 kids aged 8 to 16 at this year’s event. Kids have been at previous DEF CONs, but this was the first time organizers had specific discussions and tutorials gears towards them.
Over two days, they met prominent hackers, Homeland Security officials and NSA security experts. They also listened to talks on the history of hacking, and lectures on cryptography. Some of the convention’s hotly contested competitions were geared toward children, as well. One contest covered lock-picking techniques to be used in the event they forget their locker combination. The kids were encouraged to find security vulnerabilities in popular technologies, from video games to computer hardware.
I had the opportunity to watch the kids’ lock-picking contest. They got it and very quickly.
As he watched with pride as his son learned the finer points of lock-picking, one father told me the boy was interested in his own work as a programmer/hacker. He wanted to show his son about the vulnerabilities of tech, and . to impress upon him the difference between hackers and crackers (unethical or criminal hackers).
Long has Las Vegas been changing its image to a family friendly vacation and tourist destination. DEF CON put a new spin on this with an educational opportunity for hackers and their kids.