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Def Con – Hackers’ Paradise, But Expect to Level Up on Paranoia

By: , Posted on: August 28, 2015

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Want to learn how to kill someone (online that is), steam open an envelope and not leave a trace, or unlock the doors of a Tesla from your laptop? If so, then grab $230 (cash only, no registration needed!) and head over to Def Con, the premier hacking conference held each August in Las Vegas.

I attended my first Def Con recently to meet with authors and editors in subjects close to the always controversial subject of Hacking. It’s a great show and attendees and presenters really know their stuff!

I know hackers can do some amazing things, and often for altruistic and even helpful means, but I was not prepared to discover just how little security we really have from true cyber threats. Here are just a few of the scary insights I learned from the discussions and sessions:

– GPS system hacking could send self-driving cars ‘over a cliff’

Hacking into a car’s GPS can be used to give a driver the wrong directions, that in itself is worrying but it could also be used to send future self-driving cars into a crash.

– Hackers can ‘break out’ of house arrest

The location-tracking devices often worn on the ankle of people under house arrest can be hacked and the GPS fooled, showing the convicted hacker at home where they could be happily wandering around free.

– Breaking into a Brink’s safe takes 60 seconds

A USB stick can be inserted into the Brink’s CompuSafe Galileo which can manipulate the safe’s locks, siphoning money from a world leading bank vault in less than a minute.

– Digital tech can destroy a chemical barrel

A demonstration on the floor imploded a metal barrel instantly. It worked by simultaneously vacuum-packing whilst raising its temperature, the harmless demonstration showed what could be achieved remotely and left us all imagining what could happen if a volatile chemical plant were attacked by hackers.

– Hackers can manipulate death records

It seems that it’s not that hard for a hacker to kill you remotely. A demonstration showed how simple system could allow anyone to pose as a doctor or funeral home director for the purposes of forging death certificates.

– A $32 device can unlock cars and opens garage doors

The kit sounded impressively complicated (to my layman’s ears) and intercepts the radio waves containing the codes that are sent from your key fob to the vehicle it controls, instantly unlocking your car. But this tech can be used to manipulate remote garage door openers, giving tech-savvy thieves a route into your home too and all for $32!

There were ‘villages’ on such topics as Hardware Hacking, Tampering, Bio Hacking, Social Engineering, and lots more including physical security with delegates learning Lockpicking or check if they are being spied on or tailing you home.

But it wasn’t all scary: Two of Syngress’ biggest authors in Cybersecurity were on hand at the conference, even signing their books for the delegation and definitely happy to discuss their work:

Philip Polstra: who wrote Hacking and Penetration Testing with Low Power Devices and Jayson Street, a bit of a Def Con celebrity, Jayson wrote: Dissecting the Hack: The V3rb0tt3n N3tw0rk

Jayson is a huge name in the community and at Def Con. Listen to an interview from the conference with Jayson where he speaks about his plans to revitalize the Def Con Groups and spread the hacker gospel around the globe.

Hit us up in the comments below and tells us about your own hacking experiences or just weigh in on how scary it is to be alive in a world where someone can ‘kill’ you online with just a few keystrokes.

About the Editor:

brian romer

Brian Romer is Senior Acquisitions Editor for Computer Science signing in Cybersecurity and Networking. He has been acquiring and publishing books for more than 25 years, and joined Elsevier in early 2013. Brian has published hundreds of academic, trade, and professional books in his career in a variety subjects in addition to computer science, including business, economics, history, politics, religion, and philosophy. Prior to Elsevier, he worked for other world-renowned global publishers including Cengage and Pearson, as well as premier independent publishers including Rowman & Littlefield and Praeger. He also founded, and sold, his own publishing company. Brian works from his home office in Portland, Oregon, where he spends his time with his wife and two children. His latest favorite book is Goodnight Ipad by Ann Droyd. Check it out on YouTube.

If you are interested in writing for Elsevier in the areas of Cybersecurity or even Networking please contact Brian to discuss your ideas or submit a proposal.

Computer Security

Securing computer systems is crucial in our increasingly interconnected electronic world. With so many business, consumer, and governmental processes occurring online, a growing potential exists for unauthorized access, change, or destruction of those processes. For years, Elsevier’s Syngress imprint has helped computer and information security professionals learn theory, strategy, and tactics for protecting digital assets in this constantly evolving field. Our books and eBooks in areas such as info security, digital forensics, hacking and penetration testing, certification, and IT security and administration. Click here for Syngress companion materials Click here for access to our archive of free eBooks, booklets and downloadable PDFs for Syngress and Computer security content. Access companion materials and instructor’s resources for all our books from the Elsevier Store. Search by author, title or ISBN, then look for the “Resources” tab on any book page.