DEFCON Kids: All Hackers Aren't Jerks

Brad Chacos

Current headlines would have you believe that the hacking community is a seedy world full of anonymous, government-hating hooligans and lulz-seeking havoc-wreaking chuckleheads. That is a part of it, but for every jerk who steals credit card numbers, there's a hard-working hacker helping to identify weaknesses in networks and shore up corporate defenses. Hoping to inspire a new generation of white-hat hackers, DEFCON's hosting their first ever event targeting techie children, the aptly named DEFCON Kids.

Workshops and classes are scheduled to teach future Neos and Condors how to do everything from picking locks to communicating in code to wheedling information out of people. "There will be a workroom for kids to participate in hacking activities anytime throughout the two days, including a Codebreaking Museum, a Makerbot and the Hardware Hacking Station," the Defcon Kids website says.

As odd as it sounds to teach a room full of 10 year olds how to crack a Master lock, everything's given the full white-hat spin. For example, while the "Google Hacking" class shows kids how to get data hidden in plain sight, none of the courses involve penetrating network defenses.

"We want to expose kids at an earlier age to the wonders of taking things apart and making them do things that they weren't intended to do," Jeff Moss, DEFCON's founder, told Reuters .

This year's Defcon 19 takes place at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Vegas from August 4th to August 7th. The organizers are setting aside two rooms on the 6th and 7th for Defcon Kids . Anybody aged eight to 16 is encouraged to attend, but "DEFCON Kids is not daycare; kids are their parents’ responsibility."

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