DEFCON is one of the most famous hacking conventions in the world. Previously bringing kids was frowned upon, but the original attendees have grown up and are having children of their own. Enter DEFCON Kids, cofounded by 10 year old CyFi.
The original DEFCON was started in 1993 by Dark Tangent aka Jeff Moss has stated in its Official FAQs and Unofficial FAQs that this convention is “primarily an adult conference and not meant for children.” As hackers have aged and started having their own children, they wanted a place for them to learn safe hacking. According to PhysOrg, DEFCON Kids is attempt to teach kids 8-16 safe hacking.
“Everyone is up in arms that we are going to teach kids to be evil, but that is not the case,” said Chris Hadnagy, who trains companies to guard against slick-talking hackers and runs the website social-engineer.org.
“Think critically, think objectively — that is what this industry teaches people,” continued Hadnagy, a DEFCON Kids mentor.
“The Internet is a breeding ground of predators, and not falling for those things is a skill I want my kids to have when someone is trying to manipulate them into something; whether it is peer pressure or a malicious adult.”
There are controversial classes planned in such topics as lock picking, social engineering, Google hacking, becoming a spy and hardware hacking. While those topics are alarming to some, there is also a session called Meet the Feds, when representatives from three letter agencies will talk about “criminal investigations, intelligence gathering, cyber weapons, war strategy, and more.”
The speakers for many of the classes own security businesses, advise or work for the government, used to work for the government, or are from the world of education where math and science are taught using many of the skills learned at the convention. Ethics components as well as cautionary tales are included as a part of many of the classes to steer kids away from mischief.
The entire conference sounds as if it would be fun to attend. The family conversations at dinner should be fascinating to overhear. Unfortunately, kids who would enjoy DEFCON Kids don’t have hacker parents. Instead of learning the right way to stay out of trouble with these unusual skills, they are liable to wind up in trouble. Remember the movie War Games? Yeah, their destined to be THAT kid.