This week is the 25th iteration of DEF CON, the huge hacking convention held annually in Las Vegas that brings together tens of thousands of cyber security professionals, government intelligence agents, corporate business interests, and of course, hackers.
Generally held in tandem with another hacking conference, Black Hat, DEF CON is a festival of sorts for all things cyber security and hacking, with a four day schedule jam-packed with guest speakers, live music, tech demonstrations, and the opportunity to network with other hackers.
Not wanting to be left in the dark from an exceptional talent pool, federal intelligence agencies like the FBI and NSA have been attending the conference for years in hopes to glean the cutting edge in the hacking community, and attempt to woo hackers and their sense of patriotism or civic duty to join the fight in global cyber security. In 2012, the director of the NSA gave the keynote speech at DEF CON 20, illustrating the value the intelligence community has placed on connecting to this group.
But despite DEF CON being billed as a friendly gathering, warnings in Las Vegas and inside Caesar’s Palace, where the conference is being held, abound about the potential dangers of the audience.
Spotted in the business centre at Caesars pic.twitter.com/N2HjwS6Og1
— christopherneal (@christopherneal) July 24, 2017
And apparently some businesses are not quite up to speed with the latest in cyber security.
— ?????225? (@lucky225) July 25, 2017
Even the DEF CON website itself warns against the realities of a hotel full of 20,000+ hackers and their enthusiasts. Guests are reminded to not use any ATMs anywhere near the Strip, and everyone is advised to disable WiFi and Bluetooth capabilities on all of their devices if they come near the event. Some are clearly concerned about hacking more than just their devices.
— Dave Tibbs (@LowlySysAdm1n) July 27, 2017
In another sign of growing government interest and respect for the community, two current Congressman will be attending this year’s DEF CON, Representatives Will Hurd (R-TX) and James Langevin (D-RI). Hurd has a background in technology and intelligence, himself a former officer with the CIA with a degree in computer science. The congressmen will be speaking as a form of outreach to the security research community at DEF CON.
Featured image by King of Hearts via Wikipedia