Click here for RGB Gallery One click. Unlimited auctions.

   updated 5:10 p.m.  4.Aug.99.PDT

Top Stories
Top Headlines
Get Quote:
Financial Services
Datek Wired Index Fund Investor's Business Daily GetSmart's MortgageFinder
Today's Summary
Wired Index | All Indexes

Powered by


Wired Magazine
Issue 7.08
Subscribe to Wired.
Special offer!
Webmonkey Guides
RGB Gallery
Animation Express

Wired News staff

Contact us

Wired News delivered
by PalmPilot,
Outlook Express,
In-Box Direct,
or PointCast

Fear and Hacking in Las Vegas
by Polly Sprenger

3:00 a.m.  10.Jul.99.PDT
LAS VEGAS -- The sun rose Friday morning on the first day of Def Con, the annual hacker conference, with labor crews hosing down the parking lots and the highways.

Workers were dealing with the aftermath of an unexpected thunderstorm that shut down the airport Thursday and left the city sunk in a thick layer of mud.

Def Con: Bring in Da Noise
Lawyer: Hackers Have Rights, Too
Inside the Virus Writer's Mind

More than 600 of Def Con's 6,000 expected attendees were already in town for the Black Hat security conference.

The timing was unfortunate, however. Next door to the predominately male-attended Black Hat conference was a teenage dance competition, where, after spending the day listening to talks on security issues, attendees could watch adolescent dancers shaking their groove thang.

"Someone's gonna get arrested," sighed Chris, from Toronto, in the bar of the nearby Hard Rock Cafe later.

But by mid-morning, hackers shook off their Thursday night hangovers to descend on the convention hall. Hacker groups and enthusiasts did a brisk trade in T-shirts, hacker equipment, and zines.

As a TV crew cruised the hall, an organizer asked everyone to be mature and not deface the camera.

"Be good, and next time Mom will let you wear the big pants," he said to the youthful, baggy-panted crowd.

Convention-goers were testing their competitive side in the sixth annual Spot the Fed contest (several agents were outed by early afternoon), and by donning inflatable sumo wrestling suits for a little all-in-fun mock violence.

"Always wanted to beat up some punk on the mailing list? You really hate the person who always argues with you?" Def Con organizers asked. "How about media vs. the underground? Or feds vs. hackers? We've rented giant inflatable sumo suits for you to do battle."

T-shirts like "I miss crime" and "I hate stupid people" caught approving glances from the crowd, while a photographer wandered around the room snapping shots of any available woman for the "Babes of Def Con" photo album.

Outside the smoky, crowded hall, a group of younger attendees was gleefully stringing cable from hotel room to hotel room, beefing up the paltry connection offered by the Alexis Park convention center and resort.

The "day in the sun" feeling was soured a bit as a group of security enthusiasts posted "wanted" signs accusing John P. Vranesevich, founder of AntiOnline, of criminal activities. They accuse the computer security pundit of paying crackers to hit sites in exchange the scoop.

Vranesevich and his supporter, Happy Hacker Carolyn Meinel, vocally deny that he has done anything wrong, and point the finger back at the accusers, who have posted material about Vranesevich on their Web site.

The controversy escalated last week, when a popular site for security information, PacketStorm, was removed from its host server at Harvard after university officials were told that the site had negative and allegedly libelous information about Vranesevich on it.

But according to Brian Fite of HSK, the tension only adds another dimension of excitement to the goings-on.

Also on the underground agenda is a party to announce the "launch" of Back Orifice 2000, a hacking tool for Microsoft Office 2000; a formal black-and-white ball where T-shirts will be traded in for tuxes; and assorted, sordid all-night raves.

Related Wired Links:

Inside the Virus Writer's Mind

Coming Soon: Back Orifice 2000

Have a comment on this article?
Send it.


Send us feedback | Work at Wired Digital | Advertise with us
About Wired Digital | Our Privacy Policy

Copyright © 1994-99 Wired Digital Inc. All rights reserved.

[] []
Printing? Use this version.
Fax this for free.
Email this to a friend.

Today's Headlines
Dyson Denies Collusion with DOJ

Court Has a Nasty Word for MS

RIAA, Diamond Sweep Away Suit

Online Liquor Ban Approved

The E-Rate's First Report Card

Appeals Court Upholds E-Rate

ISPs Accuse China of Infowar

Euro Commission to Probe NetSol

Diverting the Digital Streams

A Tax Break for Snoopable Code

Measure Pushes Federal Net Tax

FIDNET Under Review