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Defcon: Where feds and hackers rub elbowsIt's an unlikely pairing: security officials and underground hackers. Every year, they make peace and share information at Defcon, Black Hat's sister conference. CNET's Kara Tsuboi reports from the 16th annual event that begins in Las Vegas this weekend.
>> We have everybody from like just 14 year old kids to 60 year old federal agents. >> Kara Tsuboi: This wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives is what has attracted more than 8 thousand attendees this year. >> And at home maybe you're the one guy that's kind of geeky and [inaudible] doesn't really fit in. You come here and it's like, "Oh no" you know "You're not really that special." >> It's the best weekend of the year. It's just a ton of fun. I mean you can turn to anybody in the room and talk to them about something that is incredibly interesting to you and they'll be able to talk about. And it's the only place in the world that you can do that. >> Kara Tsuboi: Garrett and his friends are here to compete in some of the scheduled games like creating a resilient computer virus or cracking ciphers. >> Well the goal of the competition is to basically score points by attacking different services or puzzles that the DefCon 949 group has set up. >> Kara Tsuboi: Others come for the lectures on topics like "How to hack social networking sites" to "How to pick locks?" >> Everybody that has security responsibility and risk assessment responsibility needs to understand the risks. >> Kara Tsuboi: Then there are the Feds who come to share information and see how the other side operates. >> There's an enormous amount of energy. There's an enormous amount of talent here. There's an enormous amount of people who think differently than we do and it's important to understand those points of view. >> Kara Tsuboi: Attending a conference like this doesn't come without its inherent challenges. >> Things like checking webmail, Gmail, Yahoo mail, all of that not a good idea on this public network. >> Kara Tsuboi: That's the fastest way to make yourself vulnerable for password theft or attack. >> ATM's for example are insecure. They've got a lot of -- they're very easy to abuse and so people take advantage of that. >> Kara Tsuboi: The hackers are even encouraged to manipulate the conference badges. This slot holds a slash card and we've heard people have used these badges as remotes to turn off TVs or even project LED letters and who knows what else. In Las Vegas, I'm Kara Tsuboi, Cnet.com.