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“Defcon Kids” Hacking Sessions — High-Tech Hogwarts or Dangerous Training Ground?

by Adriana Lee | June 27, 2011June 27, 2011 1:32 pm PST

Hacking — illicit fringe activity or family pastime? Why not both? In August, Defcon 19 in Las Vegas will be offering some related sessions for the youngsters, in a series dubbed Defcon Kids. Here, children ages 8 to 16 can learn about lock-picking, clue-deciphering, social engineering, white hat hacks and cyber security sessions.

According to Chris Hadnagy, one of the cyber security experts behind the event, kids are surrounded by technology, so it’s important to offer guidance and provide a safe place for them to legally test and expand their hacking skills.

“Legally” may be the operative word here. The founder of the main Defcon conference, Jeff Moss (“Dark Tangent”) sits on a White House homeland defense committee and spearheads security for an agency responsible for Internet addresses. The US National Security Agency is expected to offer a cryptography exhibit this year, and even national police organizations have been known to recruit at Defcon.

So the young attendees may not be destined for heading up LulzSec 2.0 someday, after all. But this message could be moot for critics, who may still believe that illicit acts could result from this kind of education.

To that, Christofer Hoff, a hacker parent and lock-picking instructor at Defcon Kids, has this to say: “If you teach a kid how to light a match, does it mean he will turn into an arsonist? Probably not, but he will learn how not to burn himself.”

What do you think of this high-tech “Hogwarts”? Is it a great educational tool or a dangerous training ground? And would you send your kids to this event?

[via Engadget, HotHardware, AFP, source Defcon Kids]


Adriana Lee

Adriana is the resident writer-slash-culture vulture who has written about everything from smartphones, tablets, apps, accessories, and small biz...