DefCon - all in good fun

Tuesday, 2 September 2003, 1:23 PM EST

There are no rules at DefCon, the world's largest computer hacker convention. Earlier last month, about 5,000 folks - including network and security folks of every ilk - attended the show, held annually at the Alexis-Park Hotel in Las Vegas.

Between the conference's "vendor area" and "hacking zone" were a few dozen round banquet tables, loaded with innumerable laptops, monitors, routers, cabling - and at least 23 antennas. Cheating is allowed at DefCon. In fact, it's expected.

I've hosted Hacker Jeopardy for 10 years, and part of the ritual is to catch people cheating, getting remote help from the audience or a distant room with wireless earphones. One year they tried to hack the answers out of my computer. Then they tried to download the memory files from the hotel computer that I had used to make hard copy printouts. It was all in good fun - with reasonable paranoia.

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