No, that’s not spelled incorrectly.
So, back in July, I had the amazing opportunity to go to DEFCON 20 in Las Vegas. It was quite a historic event; the twentieth anniversary of the biggest, baddest, most talked about computer security convention ever. Though, of course, I’m using that term somewhat euphemistically. I heard about DEFCON shortly after getting started in the IT industry and have wanted to go ever since. Like I mentioned last week, I’m a pretty big fan of sub-cultures and security and, well, DEFCON is the event of the year for an intersection of those two things. Yes, I’m talking about hackers.
Now, before you assume that I’m off breaking the law, hackers aren’t all bad. Hackers are just people who think very far outside the box when it comes to things like computers and technology and security. In fact, most hackers will tell you that they’re interested in improving security by trying to break it. And, that’s definitely a philosophy I share. Until you know your security can withstand an assault, frankly, you don’t know how good it really is.
And, as anyone worth their salt at security will tell you, physical access is the first step. If you can lock people out of your system and keep them from gaining any kind of access, well, that’s a secure system. If you think I’m exaggerating, well, you’ll just have to trust me when I tell you that the most important data isn’t available from just any networked computer. To get to it means getting past a locked door. So, what, then, is the first step in testing security? Testing locks.
And, yes, while at DEFCON I learned the basics of lockpicking. It’s not actually illegal, unless I’m trying to bypass a lock to which I do not have permission to test, and carrying the tools for it isn’t illegal, unless I’m trespassing with them, in which case they become burglar’s tools and a different class of felony altogether. But, I’m only interested in the skill for informational and entertainment purposes. Trust me.
If you’re interested in exploring the world of “locksport”, there are people who can help and you don’t even have to go to DEFCON to get it. Just head over to The Open Organization Of Lockpickers‘ website and take a look. (Yes, that’s TOOOL, for short.) They have slideshows that explain the basics as well as links to books and sites where you can buy the tools you need to try your hand at lockpicking. It’s loads of fun! Honest!
So, go check them out and enjoy your weekend!
(But, don’t call me for bail money if you get in trouble!)