DEF CON Conference 19—the Largest Hacker Convention on the Planet


The Annual DEF CON convention this year will again be held in Las Vegas, Nevada, but the place will be different from the last five conventions. DEF CON 14 through 18, 2006 through 2010, were all held at the Riviera Hotel & Casino, but this year, the event will be taking place at the Rio Hotel & Casino.

Largest Hacker Convention

Don’t confuse this DEF CON with DEFCON, the Defense Readiness Condition used by the United States Armed Forces to describe various states of readiness and alert; this is a different state of alert entirely! The conference is the largest hacker convention of its kind, and has been since its inception in June of 1993.

The Las Vegas convention serves as a way for crackers, cyber-criminals, government employees, journalists, lawyers, computer security professionals, hackers with an interest in computer architecture, and computer coders to get together and share in new findings and new ideas. It is a great place to network and have a good time with like-minded folks.

Cyber Contests

Contests at DEF CON range from who can chill a beer in the hot Las Vegas heat, to lock picking, to creating art, to creating the longest Wi-Fi connection. There and even a scavenger hunt and a game of capture the flag.

This is not the paintballing type of capture the flag. It is the cyber kind. This type of capture the flag involves attacking and defending computer networks.

Negative Attention from Malware

The convention has caused some unwanted negative attention. In 2008 they held a “Race to Zero” competition where contestants submitted their own pieces of malware!

These programs were then required to run through various types of antivirus “engines” (think Norton Antivirus and other programs like it) in different rounds of play. The malware that passed through every antivirus program was the winner.

The conference’s founder is a man named Jeff Moss. Moss is also the founder of the Black Hat computer hacking briefings, which take place in Las Vegas immediately preceding DEF CON.

This year’s DEF CON conference will run from August 4th to the 7th. For more information on DEF CON 19 visit the DEF CON website.

James Crane