Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/08/01/defcon_survival_guide/

A Defcon survival guide

How to surf in a hostile environment and live to tell the tale

By Dan Goodin

Posted in Security, 1st August 2007 15:54 GMT

Defcon It's almost time for Defcon, the most bacchanal of security conferences and perhaps the single largest gathering of technically adept pranksters. Now is the perfect time to map out a strategy for keeping emails private and making sure your system doesn't get ransacked by the scowling kid with the nose ring and jet-black hair.

It only takes a single weakness to be penetrated, so the only way to be sure you won't get hacked is to leave your computer at home, or short of that, not to plug in to the wireless network there. This may sound extreme, but it's the truth. If your only need for a machine while at the show is to check sports scores, consider going without.

OK, so what about the rest of us? Good security is no accident, so make a plan of action for the way you'll access your email or connect to sensitive work servers.

Before you go:

Once at the conference, think of ways to minimize the attack surface of your machine by removing all non-essential services.

Finally, remain vigilant and expect the unexpected. As one SANS diary writer put it a couple years ago: "try to recall all of the attacks you have seen in the last year and dismissed because the attacker needed to be local to your network. Then realize that you are about to to connect to that network."

Beware of fake access points and rogue DHCP servers. If you haven't already done so, install the NoScript Firefox extension. While at Defcon, don't install any updates for any software.

Our thanks to Chris Soghoian for help in compiling this collection of best practices. It's by no means complete, and we invite our readers to share additional measures security mongers can take to lock down their machines. We're also happy to try our hand at answering questions. ®