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DEF CON 21 in Pictures

As the world's most famous hacker conference, DEF CON celebrated its 21st year with record attendance, a no-Feds policy, Prism and Snowden themes, an official documentary and the usual subversive shenanigans.

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Topic: Security
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DEF CON 21 floor medallions

Last week, the 21st annual DEF CON hacker conference opened its doors to over 15,000 attendees - and when registration ran out of badges, they issued paper badges to the overflow crowd.

In a course reversal that caused controversy in and out of hacker communities, this year Federal agents were disinvited weeks before the conference.

See more photos and read much more about the activities, outrageous parties and more mischief at DEF CON 21 in:

The conference, with benefit parties and contests, raised over $100,000 for the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Hackers came to DEF CON from all over the world to hack, party, learn and connect in the world's most high-profile hacker conference, and attendees included all genders, age ranges, races, nationalities, orientations and diverse configurations, from classic nerds to families of all kinds. In my ten years of attending tech conferences, it was the highest ratio of women to men in attendance that I'd ever seen.

The actor Will Smith showed up on DEF CON's last day with bodyguards, causing a lukewarm stir - not nearly as much interest as had an actor more closely connected to hacker culture. He told inquiring attendees that he was there to research the way hackers talk and behave because he is readying to play a hacker "with a social engineering aspect" in an upcoming film.

Smith dropped in on a social engineering talk and briefly visited the vendor floor, staying at DEF CON for around 20-30 minutes. The high-profile, loyal Scientology donor purchased two CD's of nerdcore rap from community treasure rap duo, Dual Core, and the Fresh Prince may have learned how a Pwn Plug works. Or not.

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DEF CON 21 Edward Snowden cardboard cutouts

Two life-sized cardboard cutout stand-ups of former government contractor-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden made their way around various rooms of the conference (and parties) all weekend. This was the "Where's Waldo" version, which - seen here at the end of the conference - became weathered from stickering and attention from people who posed with it in photos all throughout the conference.

See more photos and read much more about the activities, outrageous parties and more mischief at DEF CON 21 in:

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DEF CON 21 Password Challenge

For the Crack Me If You Can password challenge, contestants had 48 hours to crack the hardest passwords for a variety of prizes. Tens of thousands of passwords were released to competitors hasked with a variety of algorithms, common and uncommon.

See more photos and read much more about the activities, outrageous parties and more mischief at DEF CON 21 in:

Photo by (c)HackerPhotos.com/AST Cell used with express permission via DEF CON Press Office.

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DEF CON 21 Hardware Hacking Village

Along with DEF CON's Lockpick Village, the Wireless Village and the Tamper Evident Village, the Hardware Hacking Village (above) was a giant room filled with long tables and chairs with a presentation area - and were packed with people, abundant with eagerly learning kids, and buzzing all day long, every day.

Hardware Hacking Village skill shares included learning to solder, microcontroller programming, circuit hacking, warranty voiding, and more.

See more photos and read much more about the activities, outrageous parties and more mischief at DEF CON 21 in:

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DEF CON 21 Tamper Evident Village

The Tamper Evident Village - also packed and busy, nonstop - is one of the least publicized hacker activities, but certainly one of the more compelling. There were demonstrations of high-security tamper-evident seals (and how to open them without leaving evidence), skillshares on how to sneakily open everything from envelopes to mechanical seals, contests, and take-home kits for practice.

See more photos and read much more about the activities, outrageous parties and more mischief at DEF CON 21 in:

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DEF CON 21 Hacker Jeopardy

Hacker Jeopardy had two flavors - one for kids, and one that was obviously aimed at adult hackers and involved plenty of beer and salty humor. 

Example of the Hacker Jeopardy screens:

Photos by (c)HackerPhotos.com/AST Cell used with express permission via DEF CON Press Office.

See more photos and read much more about the activities, outrageous parties and more mischief at DEF CON 21 in:

 

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DEF CON 21 Hacker Jeopardy

Obviously, this was the Hacker Jeaopardy for grown-ups. This n00b apparently had to be clearly labeled.

Example of the Hacker Jeopardy screens:

Photos by (c)HackerPhotos.com/AST Cell used with express permission via DEF CON Press Office.

See more photos and read much more about the activities, outrageous parties and more mischief at DEF CON 21 in:

 

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DEF CON 21: Release of DEFCON: The Documentary

This year saw the premiere of DEFCON: The Documentary when it screened for the first time during the conference. Shot entirely by trusted DEF CON community members, the documentary was eagerly anticipated by the community and viewers said that it was the ideal documentary to show to outsiders who wanted a true understanding of this notoriously private, protected and tight-knit community. 

See more photos and read much more about the activities, outrageous parties and more mischief at DEF CON 21 in:

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DEFCON: The Documentary film crew

The crew of DEFCON: The Documentary. The doc premiered on the first day of DEF CON 21, with an estimated audience of around 1,000. In contending with filming the community, known to dislike press and outsiders, director and editor Jason Scott (of Internet Archive) said,

DEF CON is now an old enough and large enough conference that the real “no photos of me, no knowing my name, no recording anything near me, no personal details” crowd has long since moved away or into other endeavors.

There’s still a few folks understandably unwilling to be involved in such silliness, but between the vests and the obvious filming, we got by.

The documentary is freely available to watch in a variety of ways, found on the DEFCON: The Documentary page (image via).

See more photos and read much more about the activities, outrageous parties and more mischief at DEF CON 21 in:

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DEF CON 21: the Wall of Sheep

DEF CON's legendary Wall of Sheep. An ongoing demonstration of what happens when people log into email, websites, and all other services without using encryption, the Wall is meant as a public cautionary tale - and hackers are razzed forever if their name appears on the Wall during the conference.

All passwords on the Wall are obscured, so no sensitive credentials other than an email address are publicly exposed. The goal is education, and a reminder that the same thing happens every day in regular public spaces - but rather than good-natured tough love by DEF CON hackers, the usual version of this comes from people with malicious intent.

Photo by (c)HackerPhotos.com/AST Cell used with express permission via DEF CON Press Office.

See more photos and read much more about the activities, outrageous parties and more mischief at DEF CON 21 in:

 

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DEF CON 21: Badges

The badge belonging to DEF CON head honcho Jeff Moss. DEF CON's badges are always unique and complex, with a layered puzzle to solve. This year the 'playing card' badges were a non-electronic crypto challenge that featured mechanical watch movements, and some had hidden details that could only be seen when a bright light was shined through them.

I shot a large gallery of DEF CON 21's badges, seen in this Flickr set.

See more photos and read much more about the activities, outrageous parties and more mischief at DEF CON 21 in:

Photo by (c)HackerPhotos.com/AST Cell used with express permission via DEF CON Press Office.

 

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DEF CON 21: "My name is Edward Snowden"

A significant number of DEF CON attendees wore "Hello my name is" nametags with "Edward Snowden" printed or hand-written on them. It seemed a sobering reminder that any one of the attendees could have been the brilliant, disillusioned ex-government contractor.

See more photos and read much more about the activities, outrageous parties and more mischief at DEF CON 21 in:

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DEF CON 21: 3D printing

A lovely piece of art in a 3D printer - and in a nod to security professionals who were at DEF CON for work, it was where your boss' credit card could readily be used.

See more photos and read much more about the activities, outrageous parties and more mischief at DEF CON 21 in:

Photo by HackerPhotos/AST Cell, used with express Def Con press permission.

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DEF CON 21: Remembering Barnaby Jack

Hacker Barnaby Jack passed away right before Black Hat and DEF CON this year, and his loss impacted communities across both conferences. He was loved and admired by many.

See more photos and read much more about the activities, outrageous parties and more mischief at DEF CON 21 in:

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DEF CON 21: Hackers Against Humanity

Adults-only party game Cards Against Humanity is an extremely popular, hard to find, and totally politically incorrect multiplayer card game that is a popular party activity in some hacker circles. Hackers Against Humanity made its debut at DEF CON 21 (and used the same printer as "Cards"), with a marathon game played onstage in DEF CON's 'Contests' room.

The decks were sold with all proceeds going to the EFF, and sold out instantly. The Hackers Against Humanity card decks focus on hacker knowledge, memes, extremely inappropriate jokes about community events and personalities, and make steaks out of any sacred cows that might have strayed inadvertently into hacker territory.

See more photos and read much more about the activities, outrageous parties and more mischief at DEF CON 21 in:

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DEF CON 21

Above: an example of a DEF CON talk. The standing-room-only talks at DEF CON 21 were certainly the car hacking talks. Security experts Charlie Miller, Christopher Valasek and Zoz demonstrated in different presentations how to hack electronics systems in cars such as those made by Ford and Toyota. The researchers demonstrated how to make the cars drive themselves.

Car hacking has been shown before - by remote demonstration, nit the hands-on teardown seen at this year's DEF CON - and was recently in UK headlines in regard to other researchers. But at DEF CON last weekend, the researchers showed exactly how it was done for the first time.

The researchers, like many hackers, expressed deep concern for public safety and frustration at the inaction, denial - and seeming indifference - shown by large companies to the issue. Before and after the DEF CON demo, Toyota has refuted that such hacking and takeover was possible. Despite the fact that the researchers have submitted their white papers to the companies, and neither Ford or Toyota have committed to offering fixes.

The exasperated researchers feel that their discoveries pose a serious risk to consumers, and that it will be difficult to secure these systems.

See more photos and read much more about the activities, outrageous parties and more mischief at DEF CON 21 in:

Photo by (c)HackerPhotos.com/AST Cell used with express permission via DEF CON Press Office.

 

 

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DEF CON 21: After Hours

After the daytime talks were over, presentation rooms turned into party rooms with DJs and dance floors.

See more photos and read much more about the activities, outrageous parties and more mischief at DEF CON 21 in:

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DEF CON 21: After Hours

DEF CON 21 after hours was a "Prism Party."

See more photos and read much more about the activities, outrageous parties and more mischief at DEF CON 21 in:

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DEF CON 21: After Hours

During one of the DEF CON after hours parties, a cardboard Edward Snowden DJ'd a set. Another conference-room-turned-party had been converted with a hidden false wall through a photo booth that led to a seperate party within, complete with maragrita machines, and more.

See more photos and read much more about the activities, outrageous parties and more mischief at DEF CON 21 in:

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DEF CON 21: After Hours

The offsite afterparties for DEF CON are legendarily opulent and lavish. One of the most coveted parties to get into was the "#LOLBitcoin" party (thrown by Exploit Hub and Rift Recon) in the Las Vegas Palms "Playboy" suite, featuring a mermaid in the hot tub and a giant Bitcoin ice sculpture.

See more photos and read much more about the activities, outrageous parties and more mischief at DEF CON 21 in:

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