This year is a special year for DefCon, an annual hacker convention in Las Vegas. First of all, the past nine months or so have seen hackers rise to international infamy--or just plain fame, depending on whom you talk to. Probably as a result, a number of U.S. government agencies, including the hyper secretive National Security Agency, are swarming the Rio Hotel and Casino, the site of this year's event. And for the first time ever, the convention is welcoming children to attend a junior convention, DefCon Kids, despite a long list of disclaimers from the organizers of the adult conference. Because it turns out that despite the presence of government spooks, one of the world's largest hacker conventions is a pretty lawless affair.
DefCon started in 1993 as a party for the Canadian hacker network "Platinum Net," and they've held on to a fun-loving attitude about the event. Growing from that small group to a record of 10,000 attendees, the event attracts hackers, security professionals, developers, random computer geeks, and, according to DefCon's website, criminals. Jeff Moss, who goes by the hacker handle Dark Tangent, who founded DefCon and a related conference on cyber security called Black Hat, takes no shame in warning people about the potential risks of spending a weekend in a casino full of vigilantes. "Please be aware that if you engage in illegal activities there is a large contingency of feds that attend DefCon," reads the DefCon website. "Talking about how you are going to bomb the RNC convention in front of an FBI agent is a Career Limiting Move!"