Friday, September 29, 2023
HomeTechnologyJeff Moss, founder of Defcon: "Hackers have to assume our role of...

Jeff Moss, founder of Defcon: “Hackers have to assume our role of representing civil society”

Defcon, the world’s largest hacker conferencebegan its 31st edition this Thursday before a full auditorium at the Caesars Forum Las Vegas: “You are going to meet a huge amount of people and if you wait for the conference to come to you, this is not going to work; But if they’re interested in the different activities, then they’re going to meet some fascinating people,” said convention founder Jeff Moss, known by his nickname “The Dark Tangent”.

Defcon is a hacker meeting that takes place every year in the city of Las Vegas. There, various researchers expose their discoveries on how to exploit vulnerabilities, abuse systems and other areas within what is known as “offensive security”which implies understanding how systems work in order to protect them from eventual attacks and make them more robust.

“During these years I have said that hackers need a seat at the political table, as technology becomes more and more complex and important. Hackers see things from a different point of view than industry, lobbyists, and profit-seeking commercial entities: we have to assume our role of representing civil society”Moss wrote this year in the guide that comes with your convention ticket.

The first day of Defcon is a kind of warm-up, in which attendees collect their badges, which cost $440 and can only be paid for in cash. This has to do with “preserving the identity of the attendees” and not leaving electronic records of their transactions, they explain from the organization.

The central banner for photos at Defcon. Photo Juan Brodersen

The last opening day talk is an introduction for newbies: DC101 -Thursday welcome panel. There, Jeff Moss exposes together with the organizers and the calls “goons”, a group always dressed in red that attends the audience. “For first-timers, I recommend pairing up with someone who has already been here,” added Moss: Defcon has several rules implicit for regular attendees, but due to their particularity, they must be explained every year.

For example, something they ask for is Do not take photos of attendees without asking for their consent. Another curious rule is the 3-2-1: (at least) three hours of sleep -Defcon is known for the large number of parties that take place during the days of the conference-, 2 meals per day and a shower. At this time of year, Las Vegas hits 40 degrees.

Another caveat has to do with Wi-Fi networks: The rule of not connecting is known due to the large number of hackers who attend and who could compromise devices, even for sport. For this reason, the organization makes 3 official networks available, two of which are encrypted, and which require the creation of a username and password: “Do not use your credit card credentialsbe creative and think of something new ”, they warn.

The hacker spirit is also very present and is made clear in this introductory talk: “Have workshops -talleres- and don’t be afraid to admit you don’t know something. On the contrary, ask them to teach you”, expressed one of the exhibitors in the introductory talk.

Defcon 31 focus: AI and the importance of hackers.

Tracey Mosley, a computer security researcher, spoke about 5G networks.  Photo Juan Brodersen

Tracey Mosley, a computer security researcher, spoke about 5G networks. Photo Juan Brodersen

Beyond the presentation, the first day of the conference had talks focused on various topics: from how hack a crypto wallet to the potential dangers that are bringing at a technical level 5G networks.

The second day already counts with various “villas”, where specialized topics are covered: hardware hacking (device hacking), intelligence and threat analysis (Recon Village), vulnerabilities in smart devices (such as roomba vacuum cleaners) and one of the hottest of the moment, an artificial intelligence villa. They are held at the convention centers of the Linq, Harrah’s and Flamingo hotels.

There are also a large number of challenges known as “Capture of Flag”, that aim to hack into systems and gain access to other computers before an adversary can. This year, even, the White House published a challenge for them to detect serious problems in generative AI systems and the winner will win a top-of-the-range Nvidia video card.

Along with accreditation, Defcon provides a small magazine with an editorial by Moss: this year, the conference founder highlighted the creation of a Mastodon server ( as an alternative to “dysfunctionality” of Twitterin reference to the enormous number of changes introduced by its CEO, Elon Musk.

I see a bright future for hackers and our Defcon communities. Not only because artificial intelligence is taking center stage, but also because of the growth of distributed systems as alternatives to centralized ones, along with a greater determination to fix core problems that governments are running today,” he said.

The 31st edition of Defcon also has Argentine presence: different researchers traveled to expose their work, from vulnerabilities in video surveillance cameras, how to hack an mpos (posnets used in mobile devices), to the discovery of a new virus made in North Korea, which attacked a Latin American company.

Special envoy to Las Vegas

look too

Recent posts