SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) – DEFCON hackers will share their skills with the next generation at a first-ever children’s version of the infamous gathering of software renegades, lock pickers and social engineers.
DEFCON Kids will take place in Las Vegas on August 6-7 during the 19th annual DEFCON started by hackers such as “Dark Tangent” when they were young computer coding or hardware cracking rebels.
“Hackers are getting older and having kids,” said Joe Grand, a DEFCON veteran known as ‘Kingpin’ who has wowed attendees with event badges made of circuit boards that could be hacked to serve as radios or other gadgets.
Grand, 35, recalling teen years in which his electronics skills got him benefits such as free telephone calls and trouble like an arrest for “computer-related stuff” he didn’t detail.
“I was scared straight and there was nobody there to guide me straight,” said Grand, who will teach hardware hacking at DEFCON Kids, which is open to children ages eight to 16.
“It feels nice to have an opportunity to be a mentor for kids who might be outcasts at school for having skills that aren’t cool; that other kids don’t understand.”
Grand’s two-and-a-half-year-old son has his own work space in dad’s lab where he excitedly looks forward to being old enough to solder circuits.
A hacker conference for children is controversial even in the DEFCON community.
Prime targets for criticism include lock picking and social engineering, the art of manipulating people into revealing sensitive information.