Las Vegas (CA) – This year’s recently completed Defcon convention started off with a bang and ended on a tender note. Almost 7000 people attended the convention and one of those was an “undercover” reporter from NBC Dateline. I put undercover in quotes because she wasn’t very good at staying hidden and was discovered even before setting foot at the Riviera Hotel.
All the Dateline drama happened on Friday, the first day of Defcon, and you can read all about it in this article . While this was the highlight of the convention, Defcon had several other notable happenings.
The Mystery Box challenge is a yearly contest that has attendees trying to break into a hardened-steel box. Protected by multiple sensors and locks, the box withstood attacks for 22.5 hours before a team of 20 finally broke in. During the contest, participants complained loudly about the deviousness of all the protections and called the boxes’ creator, “LoST”, a “very sick” man.
The Defconbots contest is another yearly contest that makes teams build automated guns that can shoot down paper targets. Teams modified plastic-pellet firing airsoft guns into robotic guns that automatically tracked white colored targets. Utah-based Team Octopi – the same team that won lost year – won this year’s contest by shooting 20 targets in 16.6 seconds. During the awards ceremony, the team told the audience that they knew nothing about computer vision when they started two years ago.
Defcon ended with some happy tears this year as two federal agents were married on stage in front of thousands of hackers. The Riviera’s minister presided over the ceremony and told the audience that he would love to do a group wedding for next year – that is if enough people are interested.
It’s interesting how the relationship between feds and attendees have changed in the past few years that I’ve been attending Defcon. Before 9/11 the feds were treated with a healthy bit of suspicion and a fed wedding would have never occurred back in the old days of Defcon. Some of the suspicion still exists today, but the feds have really tried to reach out to the community by conducting panels, answering questions and even offering jobs.