The largest, oldest, and most well-known convention for all things IT Security is DEF CON, which is currently being held in Las Vegas, Nevada!
DEF CON began in 1993 as the first hacking convention. It was originally brainstormed as a going-away party for Platinum Net, which was an old hacking network once based in Canada. When DEF CON founder Jeff Moss, who was then hosting the world’s largest hub Dark Tangent, lost contact with the organizer for Platinum Net, he decided to expand the party invitation to users from all of the other networks and turn it into one large social party.
From this, DEF CON was born. At its heart, it is an exciting social gathering for cyber security researchers, specialists, and hackers, all gathering together as one friendly community. Numerous special activities range from digital Capture the Flag games, lock-picking, and drone hacking, to unexpected opportunities such as firing a live cannon or engineering a beverage cooler, to the traditional BBQ feasts.
What started as a party has turned into an amazing gathering with a focus on sharing, teaching, and furthering the development of security practices, while having fun doing it! Each year, DEF CON draws more than 15,000 people to its halls, booths, presentations, and contests.
DEF CON has booths, special speakers, and attendees alike who offer knowledge, experiences, cutting edge research, and opportunities to learn and discover more about the Security world. Attendees range from casual interest to field professionals, from both the technical side as well as from managerial outlooks. Lawyers, air traffic controllers, law enforcement, hackers, cryptographers, software developers, security firms, automotive engineers, civil liberties groups, and students alike are all a part of this massive community.
DEF CON gets more submissions for prospect speakers and vendors than they have space and time to host. Special speakers have included the director of the NSA, guests from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Google research team members, and numerous other developers and analysts from companies worldwide. Even prospect vendors are asked in their applications, “What are you giving back to the community?” Many are charity-based or simply wish to disseminate information and good security practices to the community.
Booths are set up to teach hardware soldering techniques, test security measures against physical break-ins, how physical locks work, and how Tamper-Evidence seals work, all in a hands-on learning experience. Demos are shown for various security software solutions, penetration testing measures, and security hardware, and more.
“Every single device in the world has some kind of computer in it, and they all have multiple vulnerabilities one way or another,” one attendee said in a 2013 interview. “This is an information hub of what those vulnerabilities could be and how to fix them, and make them better and improve it for the future.”
Games have long been a way to both teach and test valuable skills. Cryptography, social engineering, forensics, information gathering, physical security measures, and other important security keystones are turned into games for DEF CON participants, which teaches and reinforces the security measures that many of them are working to protect against. Contests challenge participants to think creatively and practice their engineering and problem-solving skills.
Capture the Flag (CTF) is the largest and most well-known game at DEF CON, a team-based contest to break into each others’ computers which draws participants from around the world. Another con-wide game is a Mystery challenge, a cryptography game with coded riddles and puzzles that send the participants all over the convention following a difficult series of clues. Even the badges themselves are always unique and fascinating, from playable vinyl records to customizable LED text displays.
All of these and more offer both fun and valuable learning experiences whether you are an active security professional or someone simply interested in learning more about the wide, important field that is security.
DEF CON has no registration process, simply accepting $260 cash at the door starting today at 6am! This year, DEF CON 25 is running from July 27-30, 2017, at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vedas, Nevada!
The Tiro Security team is at DEF CON again this year! Earlier this week, our CEO and Founder was speaking at BSidesLV, an open forum for collaboration between security engineers, analysts, and managers, which runs in advance of DEF CON each year. We hope to see you!