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NSA, Linux and handcuffs: Success in Serbia for Balkan hacker conference BalCCon

Groundbreaking Balkan hacker conference BalCCon: First Contact brought hackers from all over the world to its successful launch and makes plans for next year's edgy event.

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Topic: Security
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BalCCon 2013

 

The first official large scale hacker conference in the Balkans - BalCCon - told ZDNet that based on the success of "First Contact" they're already planning next year's event.

The organizers - some, but not all, are seen in the photo above - plan on adding a "no photos/no recording" section for sessions that can be held off the record, as requested by attendees of this year's well-received and well-attended conference.

Read more about BalCCon in .

Photos used with permission and courtesy of BalCCon/Milobit.

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Slackware

BalCCon was the product of planning from LUGoNS/Linux Users of Novi Sad and sibling Linux groups in Croatia, and other Balkan locations. Above is a 'vendor' table in the community area during the busy conference.

Read more about BalCCon .

Photo by Violet Blue/ZDNet.

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BalCCon 2013

Held in the Master Center in Novi Sad, Serbia, the conference attracted hackers of all ages and genders to share their projects, skills, exploits, vulnerability discoveries, and ideas.

BalCCon succeeded on many levels, notably in its primary goal to bring together global hacking experts with youth culture and unite them in the Balkan region.

BalCCon stated,

Our model and inspiration for organizing BalCCon is [Germany's] "Chaos Communication Congress " - an annual four-day conference organized by the " Chaos Computer Club" (CCC). 

Read more about BalCCon in .

Photos used with permission and courtesy of BalCCon/Milobit.

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BalCCon 2013

One of many BalCCon workshops - which were about everything from making a darknet, hacking wifi, advanced virus tinkering, and physical security exploits to Linux basics and beyond -  in Serbia's sprawling Novi Sad Master Center on September 6 and 7.

Read more about BalCCon in .

Photos used with permission and courtesy of BalCCon/Milobit.

 

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BalCCon 2013

BalCCon introduced the ideas and ways of hacker conferences to a hacker population unused to coming together, in a reigon that can now finally start to think about more than just basic survival.

It wasn't just bits, bytes and electronics that were shared and hacked on. Once hacker attendees knew they could bring gear to hack on with others, interesting items such as the handcuff above began to appear around the conference center, inviting people to identify and hack on such things.

Read more about BalCCon in .

Photo by Eric Michaud, used with express permission.

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BalCCon 2013

At BalCCon, young hackers clogged the hallways, making it challenging for cranky older hackers to get around. 

BalCCon stated,

The basis of the hacker ethic is, and always will be, the exchange of knowledge, [and] free writing software to solve problems.

 While there were black hats inn attandance, and BalCCon plans to accomodate the anonymity needs of all hackers next year with a no-press presentation space, they also told ZDNet:

Hackers respect the ethics and fight against virtual criminals. Exposing networks of pedophiles, neo-Nazis, religious sects, the misuse of personal data... are some of the most common hacker activities.

In broad terms, hackers are working to find vulnerabilities in systems, document them, publish, and propose solutions to better protect them.

Read more about BalCCon in .

Photos used with permission and courtesy of BalCCon/Milobit.

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Vesna Manojlovic's Fifty Shirts of Gray

Featured presenter Vesna Manojlovic shows off the Fifty Shirts of Gray project, a growing collection of hacker t-shirts stitched together in a commemoration of hacker culture, its history and community.

Manojlovic's talk RIPE Atlas probes at hackerspaces was met enthusiastically by BalCCon attendees, reflecting a population of Balkan hackers eager to start their own hackerspaces movement.

Her dream is to see a RIPE Atlas in every hackerspace; RIPE Atlas employs a global network of probes that measure Internet connectivity and reachability, providing an unprecedented understanding of the state of the Internet in real time). We think that would be really cool, too.

Read more about BalCCon in .

Photos used with permission and courtesy of BalCCon/Milobit.

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BalCCon

While the atmosphere was open and fun, as seen in the hardware hacking area above, a recurring theme was learning from the mistakes of the US and its current NSA debacle. 

Featured presenter Igor Nikolic explained current issues weighing on hackers to Serbian press during interviews at BalCCon, notably privacy protection in relation to Internet companies and the intelligence services of some states:

Private data are currently more vulnerable than ever, and I think that it will only get worse. Whether through social networks where we leave our own data, or through oversight, or wrongful taking of data. 

What some states are doing currently borders on fascism. 

(...) Personal information that is collected through the Internet is certainly not used by ordinary people; it is primarily used for commercial purposes. 

Companies use data for profiling and direct marketing. Certain countries (or those in power) do much worse. What is scary is that it does not matter just what I do, but what my friends and their friends do: the fact is that it is now very easy to monitor.

We see this in the current example of the United States, where the government has monitored hundreds of thousands of people over the internet without permission.

Read more about BalCCon in .

Photos used with permission and courtesy of BalCCon/Milobit.

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Hardware hacking at BalCCon

Hardware hacking was nonstop during BalCCon.

Read more about BalCCon in .

Photo by Violet Blue/ZDNet.

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Project Demetra 21

Project Demetra 21 at BalCCon - a popular greenhouse exhibit that modeled monitoring of environmental factors using an Arduino MEGA.

Read more about BalCCon in .

Photos used with permission and courtesy of BalCCon/Milobit.

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Travis Goodspeed at BalCCon

Featured BalCCon presenter Travis Goodspeed wowed attendees with his talk Portscanning Low Earth Orbit - above is a slide showing his hacked phone, used to control his satellite dish.

Photo by Violet Blue/ZDNet.

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BalCCon 2013

BalCCon's main Hall featured presentations including How to Make Balkan Darknet, sensor networks and make it available to everyone all in one step - Project Open networkIntroduction to Capture The Flag Competitions, "Living Outside the Law" and much more.

Read more about BalCCon in .

Photos used with permission and courtesy of BalCCon/Milobit.

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Eric Michaud at BalCCon

Featured Day 1 presenter Eric Michaud introduces locksport (lockpicking) to Serbia and an eager, packed room at his popular BalCCon Day 2 workshop.

Read more about BalCCon in .

Photos used with permission and courtesy of BalCCon/Milobit.

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Igor Nikolic at BalCCon

Featured presenter Igor Nikolic led a group from his presentation in the BalCCon main hall into Novi Sad's giant Master Center lobby for a demonstration of real-life emotional protection of ideals - as an extension of his popular talk, Complexity, sustainability, hacking and you.

Photo by Violet Blue/ZDNet.

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BalCCon 2013 in the news

Serbia and Novi Sad are beginning to be considered by Europe to be like a 'Silicon Valley' for the Balkans, and so seeing BalCCon on the front page of the Sunday newspaper was a crowning achievement for BalCCon's organizers.

Inside the paper was an in-depth article about hacker culture, perceptions of hackers, concerns about an Internet surveillance state, and the problems posed by the actions of actors such as the USA's NSA.

You can read the article and its interviews here (in Serbian; Google Translate does it justice).

Close-up of "hacker" (BalCCon Hakeri) illustration:

Photos by Violet Blue/ZDNet.

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