Hanging with hackers can make you paranoid

Hanging with hackers can make you paranoid
Hanging with hackers can make you paranoid 

By Elinor Mills
InSecurity Complex
CNet News
August 4, 2009

At a hacker conference no one is safe.

When I first went to Defcon in 1995, the halls were mobbed with 
teenagers and attendees seemed more concerned with freeing Kevin Mitnick 
and seeing strippers than hacking each others' computers.

Jump forward to Defcon 17 this year, which was held over the weekend in 
Las Vegas, things certainly have changed. The attendees are older and 
wiser and employed, most of the feds aren't in stealth mode, and even 
the most savvy of hackers is justifiably paranoid.

"Welcome to the hacker world," said Defcon founder Jeff Moss.

The evolving demographic of Defcon attendees shows that the hacker 
community, like all of us, is aging. But it's also a reflection of how 
the threat landscape has changed. Web site defacements have given way to 
much more serious risks like financial fraud and unaddressed critical 
infrastructure weaknesses. It's a cornucopia of phishing e-mails, 
cross-site scripting attacks that poke holes in trusted Web sites, and 
criminals harvesting credit card numbers and selling them on the 
underground equivalent of eBay with guarantees of service and support.

Defcon and Black Hat, the pricier and more corporate sister confab held 
the two days preceding Defcon ($120 for Defcon registration versus 
$1,395 to $2,095 for phased registration at Black Hat), offer a forum 
for researchers to share information about vulnerabilities they find in 
software, hardware and systems.

Targeted this year were everything from the iPhone and surveillance 
video feeds to e-parking meters and security underlying the Domain Name 


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