USA Teaching 8-Year-Olds How to Be Hackers

Have things gotten so bad online security-wise that the government is now recruiting adolescents?

Want to teach your kids how to hack? There’s a conference for that.

Reuters reports that the first-ever Defcon Kids conference will take place this August in Las Vegas, and will teach children ranging from ages eight to sixteen the basics of computer hacking, and how to protect themselves against cyber attacks. It will also serve as a recruiting farm for U.S. federal agents looking for the next-generation of “digital crime fighters.”

As the name implies, Defon Kids is a spinoff of the Defcon hacker convention which also takes place in Las Vegas every summer. This year’s Defcon 19 will take place on August 4 – 7; Defcon Kids will only last for two days, August 6 – 7. This new kids version will reportedly focus on hacking as a “white hat,” or rather, a hacker that uses their skills for good rather than the “black hats” who apply their knowledge for stealing money, stealing identities and so on (AKA “evil”).

“Hacking isn’t just fun and games,” said a 16-year-old ‘FS’ who will be teaching kids how to defend against Internet spies. Outside the convention, he gets paid by companies for breaking into computer networks to uncover vulnerabilities. “It isn’t about breaking into systems. It’s about securing yourself and the people around you,” he added.

Reuters said that some of the most elite hackers in the world have volunteered to teach at Defcon Kids. Courses will include basic computer programming, lock picking, puzzle solving, using Google’s search engine to find confidential information, and even modifying a circuit board so that it can play a game of “Simon.” A ten-year-old Girl Scout – aka “CyFi” — is reportedly one of the individuals organizing the conference – her identity has been stolen twice… and she’s ten.

“Most of the time when people think of hacking, they think ‘Oh that’s a bad thing,'” she said. “I want to get more people to become good hackers and to have fun doing it.”

Chris Hadnagy, one of the Defcon Kids instructors, said that the convention will give the kids an avenue to practice certain skills without the fear of getting into trouble. “We want to expose kids at an earlier age to the wonders of taking things apart and making them do things that they weren’t intended to do,” added Defcon founder Jeff Moss.

The first hacking convention for kids arrives while the hacking community is seemingly at civil war, with Anonymous and LulzSec serving on the offensive “black hat” team, and Web Ninjas and TeaMp0isoN serving on the defensive “white hat” team. The internet has literally been a cyber battleground since the attack and utter defeat of Sony’s PlayStation Network. Governments, corporations and even gaming websites have fallen under the wrath of Anonymous’ political statements and LulzSec’s sheer amusement.

That said, teaching and recruiting adolescents that can’t even drive should show just how desperate things have become in securing our private, sensitive data.

Opinion: Why Facebook Isn’t a Place for Kids

PHOTO: Children are pictured using the internet to access Facebook in this file photo.Social networking has changed the way many of us communicate with friends and family, how we share information, how we learn and how we entertain ourselves. Social media has affected how people think of themselves, manage their social lives and run their businesses.

Not since the Industrial Revolution has anything had such an effect on our culture that social media has. With past media — print, radio and TV — we were simply the consumers. We read the articles that were written by journalists, listened to what was being broadcast on the radio and watched whatever program was airing on TV. With social media, we are the producers; we are the digital participants; we are the product and we are the media. We have the choice! The technology network is just the tool — it’s our local paper, our FM station and our TV channel.

Rich in their offerings, rewards and opportunities, today’s social networks — Facebook being the primary one — are intended for adults. As with the advent of cable TV, the children’s version of social networks are being established only now.

My perspective as a mother of five, an Internet-safety expert and a publisher of a kids’ social network, is that our children deserve a healthier social networking experience. I know most children would never seek out the adult content and culture on Facebook, but the fact is, it comes to them. Sadly, Facebook allows these things to go on even though they know children are using their site. (Read Facebook’s response to criticism of Facebook use by children on the next page.) MORE


Hackers break into Tony Blair’s webmail server, disclose former PM’s address book

Tony Blair

A hacking group known as TeaMp0isoN have published private information belonging to former Prime Minister Tony Blair.

TeaMp0isoN have been in the news recently for allegedly hacking into a web site they claimed belonged to a member of LulzSec.

This time they targeted a webmail server used by Tony Blair in December of 2010. It is unclear why they waited for so long to disclose the breach and there is no evidence as of yet to confirm their story.

The information disclosed includes “Tony Blair Office Members Information, Tony Blair Address & Phone Book (Includes family, friends, MPs & lords) and Katie Kay Curriculum vitae (Tony Blairs special adviser).”

Screen capture of stolen Blair address book

Information on Mr. Blair’s friends and colleagues includes names, home addresses, home, work and cell phone numbers and email addresses. Additionally Mr. Blair’s National Insurance Number (NIN) and Ms. Kay’s CV (resume) are also included in the dump.

We don’t know what specific flaws were exploited in this attack, but seeing that it is a webmail server the most likely method was SQL injection. It is extremely important to keep web servers patched and up to date, especially if they are running Linux using commonly exploited CMSs, webmail solutions and blogging software.

TeaMp0isoN logo

This attack like many we have reported on this year appears to be politically motivated. The TeaMp0isoN attackers called Mr. Blair a war criminal in a Twitter post and much of the language used is derogatory.