From a veteran researcher who brings "session cookies" courtesy grandma to a mohawk cut-and-color station, the annual Las Vegas computer security conferences Black Hat and DefCon might be nerdy, but they're never dull.
Black Hat 2011 reportedly had more attendees this year than ever before, topping the charts with more than 6,000 people.
Security researchers Dan Kaminsky introduces his grandmother to Black Hat reporters. Kaminsky's grandmother, Raia Maurer, is in her late 80s, and has attended eight of the last 11 Black Hat conferences. Kaminsky noted that this makes her a veteran of more Black Hat's than most people in the room. She's also known for bringing "session cookies," home-baked cookies to share with session attendees.
At Black Hat 2011 in Las Vegas, a mobile security panel focused on owning your phone at every level. The experts included, from left to right, Chris Wysopal, Tyler Shields, Dai Zovi, Charlie Miller, Ralf-Phillipp Weinmann, Nick Depetrillo, and Don Bailey.
Chrome OS vulnerabilities were revealed at Black Hat 2011 in Las Vegas by Matt Johansen, WhiteHat Security Team Lead, on the left, and Kyle Osborn, application security specialist focusing on offensive security for WhiteHat Security.
Joe Grand of San Francisco (not pictured) ran the Hardware Hacking Session of the first DefCon Kids, a series of hands-on panels for children at DefCon. Here, he gave them G-shaped circuit boards and taught them how to solder a resistor in place. That created a connection that turned the circuit board into a basic "Simon"-style memory game.
Jeff Moss, also known as "Dark Tangent," founder of DefCon, holds up a hard drive that he has rendered inoperable and un-rescuable with a drill press. Only a few pounds of pressure were required to prevent the potential data theft.
Lock picking gets an entire room at DefCon, supported by TOOOL, the open organization of lockpickers. Here, Wisconsinite Louis Holz explained how to create a key for a lock without a master key. "You take the blank key, stick it in the lock, and wiggle it around. That leaves an impression, which you then file down to make a copy."
MohawkCon started off as a late-night way to spread the love of spikey hair. Two years ago, it became a daily fundraiser for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Last year, the MohawkCon booth raised more than $3000 for the legal defense foundation in three days.
Here, Sara of Denver puts the finishing touches on Justin Colbertson's mohawk and spike.
Michael Ossmann, founder of Great Scott Gadgets, created this guitar tricked out with electronics that, when finished, will help players tune their strings. The purple light indicates that particular string is in-tune, while other colors indicate it's not.
The swag booth at DefCon gets a lot of foot traffic. Over the three days of the convention, there was barely a time when there wasn't a line at least 10 people long waiting to buy their DefCon-emblazoned gear.
This device charging station remained unused whenever I walked by it, possibly because it was a fake. Most people at DefCon use their own chargers and a spare wall socket, rather than risk data theft or device damage.