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USA Teaching 8-Year-Olds How to Be Hackers

By - Source: Reuters | B 49 comments

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.

Discuss
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Top Comments
  • 27 Hide
    jhansonxi , June 24, 2011 10:44 PM
    The systems of tomorrow will be pwned by the script-toddlers of today.
  • 24 Hide
    alhanelem , June 24, 2011 10:50 PM
    Why am i jealous of these 8 year old kids.....
  • 18 Hide
    lashabane , June 24, 2011 11:00 PM
    gerchokasOutrageous. Teaching kids how to fight the criminals of the future? Why not instructing them on ethics and moral values, and then NOT having to fight such a thing?

    Out of all the bad things that have happened in this world, do you honestly believe that the people who committed them were not taught morals or ethics?
Other Comments
  • 27 Hide
    jhansonxi , June 24, 2011 10:44 PM
    The systems of tomorrow will be pwned by the script-toddlers of today.
  • -7 Hide
    gerchokas , June 24, 2011 10:47 PM
    Outrageous. Teaching kids how to fight the criminals of the future? Why not instructing them on ethics and moral values, and then NOT having to fight such a thing?
  • 24 Hide
    alhanelem , June 24, 2011 10:50 PM
    Why am i jealous of these 8 year old kids.....
  • 18 Hide
    lashabane , June 24, 2011 11:00 PM
    gerchokasOutrageous. Teaching kids how to fight the criminals of the future? Why not instructing them on ethics and moral values, and then NOT having to fight such a thing?

    Out of all the bad things that have happened in this world, do you honestly believe that the people who committed them were not taught morals or ethics?
  • 15 Hide
    amk-aka-Phantom , June 24, 2011 11:14 PM
    Good stuff. These kids might grow up to be better than the current generation of iLosers, cloudRetards, virusophobiamaniacs and rejects who answer "Google" or "Yahoo" when asked what *program* do they use to browse the Internet. I wish I had that kind of learning opportunity when I was their age... still, things went better than they could for me =) Very nice.
  • -3 Hide
    Trialsking , June 24, 2011 11:16 PM
    lashabaneOut of all the bad things that have happened in this world, do you honestly believe that the people who committed them were not taught morals or ethics?



    Actually yes. That's a huge reason why they commit these acts in the first place, because no one told that it was not right to do them. Kids learn early on by watching adults and if no adult tells them otherwise that's what they do.
  • -5 Hide
    sliem , June 24, 2011 11:19 PM
    Lock picking? They are training hacker/burglar.
    Why not also train them hand-to-hand combat as well? make it hacker/burglar/hitman.
    Train also stealth and disguise, make it hacker/burglar/hitman/rogue = spy.
    Train also alphabet and math, make it hacker/burglar/hitman/rogue/teacher = FBI.
  • 1 Hide
    gerchokas , June 24, 2011 11:19 PM
    lashabaneOut of all the bad things that have happened in this world, do you honestly believe that the people who committed them were not taught morals or ethics?


    I get your point, but as Trialsking says, It's not what you learn at school, nor a loose word that your parents may have said some time. Ethics and morals are a deep part of the culture, something you "develop" when you grow up.

    "Would you steal something from a shop if there was noobody there, and you were sure that nobody would notice?"

    Asking yourself that kind of question maturely, is how i believe you realize if you've learned about ethics..
  • 3 Hide
    zoenphlux , June 24, 2011 11:21 PM
    I agree I wish i could join in on this. I think its a great idea. Similar to teaching kids how to defend themselves in martial arts against pedo's and the like. Trying to hide the kids from the problems is not responsible. For those who dont agree you can just wait in the corner for someone to take advantage of you, and then cry to obama how horrible life is and why he allowed this. lol
  • 2 Hide
    amk-aka-Phantom , June 24, 2011 11:23 PM
    "Most of the time when people think of hacking, they think 'Oh that's a bad thing'. I want to get more people to become good hackers and to have fun doing it."

    "It isn't about breaking into systems. It's about securing yourself and the people around you."

    I don't think that this will disrupt morality. More like, educate people and at the same time direct their effort into doing something good. Got a problem with that? Do a barrel roll... I'm personally very supportive of teaching younger generation on how to deal with IT from young age. Maybe then, once they grow up, they'll decide on what PC/smartphone/laptop to buy by comparing specs and usability instead of going for a specific brand or design.
  • 7 Hide
    zoenphlux , June 24, 2011 11:26 PM
    If they do turn criminal it'd just make some great movies! :D  Hackers 2: WiFi terror from Chucky Cheeses.
  • 0 Hide
    stingstang , June 25, 2011 12:04 AM
    Children learn much faster than adults. If we can train computer gurus in the most effective future of warfare, then that's great. And to all those who think that doing this to adolescents is a form of brainwashing, how is this any different from children being forced into a religion?
  • -3 Hide
    alidan , June 25, 2011 12:11 AM
    i wish hacking was a national sport, this article makes it sound so fun to be on opposing sides.
  • 4 Hide
    alidan , June 25, 2011 12:20 AM
    TrialskingActually yes. That's a huge reason why they commit these acts in the first place, because no one told that it was not right to do them. Kids learn early on by watching adults and if no adult tells them otherwise that's what they do.


    so a terrorist killing innocents believes they are right.
    the soldier killing the terrorists believe they are also right.

    both sides have a reason, and both believe that if there is a god their actions are good in its eyes.

    but obviously one side is wrong.

    morals and ethics change from person to person.

    someone who grows up in a great neighborhood will have a different set than someone who grows up in a slum

    the world is a shade of gray and you dont realize that.
    there is not pure black evil, or pure white good.
  • 0 Hide
    nebun , June 25, 2011 1:15 AM
    alhanelemWhy am i jealous of these 8 year old kids.....

    because your child will be working for one of them, lol
  • 3 Hide
    skaz , June 25, 2011 1:25 AM
    Mannnnnnnnn, I wish they had this when I was a kid. =(.
  • -4 Hide
    Northwestern , June 25, 2011 2:52 AM
    stingstangChildren learn much faster than adults. If we can train computer gurus in the most effective future of warfare, then that's great. And to all those who think that doing this to adolescents is a form of brainwashing, how is this any different from children being forced into a religion?


    The only difference is that teaching them the concept of computers will actually be useful, while worshiping a dead jew won't.
  • 0 Hide
    randomizer , June 25, 2011 2:54 AM
    Quote:
    Web Ninjas and TeaMp0isoN serving on the defensive "white hat" team

    TeaMp0isoN is most certainly not white hat.
  • 0 Hide
    fondz , June 25, 2011 3:18 AM
    Malone: If you're afraid of getting a rotten apple, don't go to the barrel. Get it off the tree.
  • -5 Hide
    aoneone , June 25, 2011 3:58 AM
    Keep up the bad work USA. Do not forget to NOT pay them under Union laws too. Idiots... ^^
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