6 Notable DEF CON Moments

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Written by Henry Dalziel

As one of the most well-known cybersecurity conventions in the world, DEF CON has hosted more than its fair share of notable moments over the course of its history.

(If you’re new to DEF CON, then here are some notable moments that will set the tone of what you can expect).

With over 150 talks each year, there are always bound to be a few controversial and thought-provoking security talks.

Incidentally, if you are interested in how to speak at DEF CON, we have a post on that too!

Here are a few examples of notable events at DEF CON.

#1 The first DEF CON

The first DEF CON conference was held in June 1993, with approximately 100 attendees. Jeff Moss (aka “Dark Tangent”), who would go on to become a major player in the cybersecurity field, arranged the conference.

#2 Hacking the Pentagon:

In 2016, the US Department of Defense invited hackers to try to get into its computer systems as part of a program named “Hack the Pentagon.” The program was a success, and DEF CON hosted the awards ceremony for the event.

#3 Voting machine hacking:

DEF CON has a long history of holding a “Voting Village,” a venue dedicated to revealing flaws in voting machines. A 10-year-old boy successfully hacked a spoof Florida state voting website in less than 15 minutes in 2017.

#4 NSA Director’s keynote:

General Keith Alexander, then-NSA director, presented a divisive keynote speech at DEF CON in 2013. Hecklers stopped Alexander’s lecture multiple times, and he eventually requested that the conference organizers not welcome him back in the future.

#5 The Tesla Model S hack:

A group of researchers demonstrated a vulnerability in the Tesla Model S in 2015, allowing them to take control of the vehicle’s electronic systems. The researchers revealed their findings at DEF CON and collaborated with Tesla to create a remedy for the flaw.

#6 The DEF CON Badge:

DEF CON develops a unique electronic badge for attendees each year, which has become a collectible item. The badges frequently incorporate hidden elements and challenges for attendees to solve, making the conference more interesting and participatory.

These are just a few of the memorable events that have occurred at DEF CON over the years. The conference is still a major gathering place for cybersecurity experts, researchers, and enthusiasts from all around the world.

In Summary

If you’re interested in actual talks, here’s a post you might find interesting relating to the most memorable DEF CON talks!

Attending DEF CON is an awesome experience (here’s why) and one we’d highly recommend.

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