DefCon’s first kid hackers

By Anne Collier

You know that there are hackers, and then there are hackers, right? Sure there are criminal hackers, but there are also plenty of “white hat” hackers who are in it for the challenge and to help find security breaches so companies and governments can get them fixed. Well, DefCon, one of the longest-running annual hacker conventions, just happened in Las Vegas for the 19th time, and it seems the biggest news story about it was that kid hackers were there for the first time this year.

“All of the young attendees had to be accompanied by an adult, and some of the most hotly contested competitions were geared toward the young participants,” the Washington Post reports, and “the kids were taught how to open Master locks, Google hacking, social engineering, coding in Scratch, and more,” according to PC Magazine. A very competent 10-year-old gave a presentation on phone and app security. PC Magazine reports that “CyFi,” “a Girl Scout and DefCon Kids co-founder from California, presented her findings on an exploit in an unnamed social game. She began tinkering with the code after growing impatient with the game’s slow place, and discovered that, by disconnecting her phone from Wi-Fi and re-setting the clock forward in small increments, she could fast-forward many of the actions in the game, ‘a new class of vulnerabilities’ she dubbed ‘TimeTraveler’.” The US government just may offer her a job soon. It held both a panel presentation (“Meet the Feds,” with representatives from the Army’s computer crime investigative unit, Homeland Security, and the National Security Agency) and a two-day computer-security workshop for 8-to-16-year-olds, reports. A USATODAY blog offers the very positive view of Wolfgang Kandek, chief technology officer of vulnerability management firm Qualys – who brought his 14-year-old, Felipe, to DefCon – on how it all went down and how it important he feels this development is – for the kids, the parents, DefCon, and computer and network security. I think you’ll appreciate this insights. Now I’d like to get Felipe’s perspective.

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