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'DefCon Kids' is for hackers ages 8-16

This is a big week for hacker conferences in Las Vegas: There's the Black Hat group and the long-running DefCon (meeting since 1993); and now, there's the first-ever DefCon Kids.

With DefCon hackers gathering for the 19th annual session — billed by DefCon as "one of the oldest continuous running hacker conventions around, and also one of the largest" —  many attendees are now parents, and the "Kids" (ages 8 to 16) offering makes sense. (Note: "Parents must be with their children during any classroom or workroom sessions that they attend," the group says.)

DefCon attendees include more than hackers: The conference brings together government employees, security professionals, lawyers, journalists, as well as those who are both "White Hat" and "Black Hat" hackers.

Among the kids' workshops and classes:

  • "The Wall of Sheep Workshop," so named because "we all can be sheep at some point when we let our guard down. Security awareness and protection is a 24x7x365 habit, it should be taken seriously and practiced in the same manner. The Wall of Sheep is an example of what can happen when users let their guard down, while the WoS does this in a playful and harmless manner, there are more ... (unscrupulous) characters at defcon that won't be so nice."
  • "Secrets revealed" will teach kids "how to solve a simple cipher message and how to create your own secret ciphers." Leading the class will be Jennifer Wilcox of the National Security Agency’s National Cryptologic Museum.
  • "Google Hacking" will show how Google "can be used for research but also how it can be used to dig up sensitive information." Security expert Johnny Long, aka "The Google Hacker," is attending "all the way from Uganda, East Africa where he is working with Hackers For Charity."
  • "Meet the Feds," a workshop which includes officials from the National Security Agency, Department of Homeland Security, and investigative units from branches of the military. "Let’s talk about criminal investigations, intelligence gathering, cyber weapons, war strategy, and more. Come with questions."

Questions there will be aplenty. Especially as theory meets reality, with the activities of Anonymous and LulzSec hackers in recent months, and in recent days, the arrest of alleged LulzSec hacker Jake Davis, aka "Topiary," who at age 18 is only slightly older than the group the workshops are aimed at.

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