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A Newbie's Introduction to DEFCON

The Talks

From there I went to my first talk. I was surprised to see that it was actually about security and given by Phil Zimmerman (Figure 2), the founder of PGP. He talked about his new VoIP encryption system that he hopes to release in the coming year.

Figure 2: Phil Zimmermann talks on his cellphone

The next talk I went to was a discussion of a new product called Unicornscan, another piece of software aimed towards keeping things secure. It's actually a program that allows network security staff to scan network logs and produce reports from which they can check for suspicious behavior. It's mainly directed towards scanning TCP/IP activity, but includes many more features.

I was overwhelmed by the amount of information the creators of Unicornscan provided. I have no experience in IT or networking beyond setting up my home network, so it was a challenge to keep up with the talk. But even though I didn't understand the specifics, I still felt they still did a good job of giving abstract descriptions of what they were doing. So when I left the discussion, I felt a little more knowledgeable about the general subject.

After Unicornscan I went to the Google Adwords hacking talk. This talk was much easier to follow and had techniques that anyone with an adwords account could apply. I wasn't that interested in most of it, since it was mainly just novelty uses. But it was great to see how you could manipulate a service through experimentation.

Most of the issues the speaker covered were about getting around the censoring systems Google has in place to prevent promoting sites that promote hacking. He also gave tips on buying ads on words that can produce great results but are cheaper to buy on Adsense and simple exploits on misspellings.