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DEFCON's Latest Challenge: Hacking Altruism 47

jfruh writes: A casual observer at the latest DEFCON conference in Las Vegas might not have noticed much change from last year — still tons of leather, piercing, and body art, still groups of men gathered in darkened ballrooms furiously typing commands. But this year there's a new focus: hacking not just for the lulz, but focusing specifically on highlighting computer security problems that have the potential to do real-world physical harm to human beings.
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DEFCON's Latest Challenge: Hacking Altruism

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  • Wouldn't want a Bluetooth vulnerability to crash the Ex-VP's heart.....
  • I've always enjoyed having a computer that's off and not even connected to the network, and watching people trying to hack my computer, while I'm fake typing and clicking. They seem to wonder what I'm doing and walk around to try to get a glimpse of my screen....

  • If you're helping fix something that could cause real world harm, it's an investment in your own safety.

  • As information technology rapidly invades every aspect of our lives it makes sense that the number of vulnerability disclosures that help people's day-to-day lives would increase.
  • still tons of leather, piercing, and body art

    Is this a security convention, or an S&M one?

    I'm confused ... I've never been to one, is this one of those 'it can be two things' deals?

    Is everybody walking around in their disco-bondage headgear and steampunk outfits talking about security?

    I'm just imagining a keynote speaker in leather chaps, and suddenly I'm very afraid. No wonder the rest of the world still thinks we're all running around playing D&D and shouting "my wizard impales your elf".

    • by Trepidity ( 597 )

      Not to worry, lots of other styles in attendance as well. Wikipedia only has one photo of attendees, and it happens to be this one [].

      • Nerds in t-shirts and glasses, now that's what I expected ... the whole leather thing threw me a little.

        • Well, we keep saying that, hoping to at least attract the weird chicks, but ... all it does is attract a bunch of weird dudes that wanna beat us up... it's just like high school all over. :(

          • Damn, suddenly I was a lot more interested in attending ... who doesn't like disco-bondage headgear, leather, and steampunk?

            Yes honey, I have to go to Vegas for work. No, I really do need my steampunk goggles and leather chaps, it's for, um, safety. Yes, for safety. Have you seen my cape?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I put on my robe and wizard hat.

  • by SillyHamster ( 538384 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2014 @02:43PM (#47664837)

    "Hacking Altruism" makes it sound like you're trying to exploit people's sense of altruism for some other goal.

    "Altruistic Hacking" captures the idea that you're hacking for the benefit of other people.

  • ...When "lulz" is acceptable as a real, albeit informal, english word.
    • by Cabriel ( 803429 )

      Really? Lulz is where you draw the line? Not "google []" (verb), or worse, "irregardless []"?

      What happened to English is that it's not Latin--never was. It's always followed less-than-static rules. It's a conglomeration of half-a-dozen different base languages. You should stop making idealistic assumptions about what it should be that most people don't share and accept what it is.

      • by mark-t ( 151149 )
        "Google" as a verb is just an example of verbing a noun, which in English is entirely normal, and not a remotely new thing. You can back a Kickstarter campaign. It can be raining outside. etc.

        It is estimated that about 20% of all english verbs started off as nouns (source: The Language Instinct, by Stephen Pinker),

        Irregardless, is fortunately still considered nonstandard. I will weep if or when it becomes actually accepted English, even if only informally.

  • by evolution. That's why you feel better about yourself when you do something "for" "someone else".

  • by WaffleMonster ( 969671 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2014 @04:31PM (#47665817)

    And no I don't mean out of badges or the venue is full.

    If you want to do something Altruistic start by giving the grey hats and assorted 0-day hoarding outfits you work for the one finger salute.

    Instead of continuing to make money working symptoms of security problems actually do something meaningful to address underlying cause especially if it means certain implosion of your industry.

    From reception of Keith Alexander it became crystal clear my friends have grown up and too many have become hypnotized pay checks.

    • by plover ( 150551 )

      Of course DEFCON sold out. That's what they call "Blackhat". And I'm sorry that you can't understand the need of hackers to eat and pay rent. They obviously should just go work for the thieves, so that "the man" doesn't keep his money.

      The security industry isn't self-perpetuating - the number of crappy, insecure sites and apps is astronomical and doesn't appear to be trending down anytime soon. Nobody is out there injecting deliberate flaws (except the NSA), there is an abundance of flaws, and a shortage of

The shortest distance between two points is under construction. -- Noelie Alito