Computer Crime Research Center


Hacker conference in LA

Date: August 07, 2006

In a dimly lit room off the main drag of a computer-security conference, programmers guzzle caffeine-laced drinks and wolf pizza while methodically hunting for cryptic messages hidden in the bowels of enemy territory.

They're looking for long strings of numbers and other clues that contest organizers have embedded within servers, the giant computers that perform critical tasks such as processing credit card transactions and granting employees remote network access. The game is the digital equivalent of capture the flag - but instead of kids trying to seize a tattered cloth in the backyard, these technophiles are searching for vulnerabilities that expose corporations and consumers to online criminals.

"There are more castle walls to defend, and each one is vulnerable to a different cannon ball," says Jason Spence, 26, a network security consultant donning a red fedora and blue tie during Defcon, one of the world's most important conferences for hackers, computer security professionals and government agents.
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