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Hackers' convention rolls into Vegas

7 July 1999

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It was five years ago today... Although we're not quite certain what happens when you take a load of hackers and stick 'em in the middle of a 24/7 gambling mecca for a bit of a jolly, here's Tim Richardson's analysis of the DEF CON jamboree of 1999:

Hackers' convention rolls into Vegas

By Tim Richardson
Published Wednesday 7th July 1999 10:29 GMT

A spangly oasis in the middle of the Nevada desert is to host a massive jamboree for hackers at the weekend. It will be the seventh year on the trot that the "annual computer underground party" for hackers will have been staged, and Las Vegas is gearing up for one heck of a party.

"We are not trying to teach you to learn how to hack in a weekend, but what we are trying to do is create an environment where you can hang out with people from all different backgrounds," trills the DEF CON publicity. "All of them are interested in the same thing, computer security." So the gamblers of Las Vegas are going to rub shoulders with another bunch of chancers - how quaint.

But could this annual get-together be the reason behind the spate of high-profile Web attacks that have received so much publicity over the last six weeks or so? Only last weekend the official site for the state of Hawaii was trashed when vandals reportedly sprayed "violate-the-state" all over its cyberwalls.

Network Solutions was also recently targeted along with other top drawer sites including the US Army, the department of agriculture and the FBI. Could it be that all these high profile hacks have been done merely to give the hackers and crackers at DEF CON something to brag about during the conference? After all, it is a reunion of sorts and at such tedious events nothing is more fun than playing one-upmanship with your peers.

You can just hear the overblown conversations now as the delegates at one of the DEF CON soirees juggle a glass of wine and a plate of canapés while trying to nibble on a flaky vol-au-vent. "You trashed the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency - cool. But I turned over the FBI man, it was a breeze..."


Those of you who fancy sharing a few vol-au-vents with the hacking community should note that DEF CON 12 will be held between 30 July 30 and 1 August 2004 at the Alexis Park, yes - you've guessed it, Las Vegas.

We assume that while it will be business as usual for men dressed in Elvis jumpsuits and tired Sharon Stone lookalikes hitting the roulette wheels, the canapé-fuelled DEF CON chit-chat may have moved along a little: "Sure, like, you wardrove the local hardware store and pocketed some cool credit card numbers. But I've been VoIP spoofing on the CIA's network man, it was a breeze." ®

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