An event for 8-16 year olds is being organized alongside Defcon 19, the annual hackers event which takes place in Las Vegas.
A Reuters news item "Forget Spy Kids, try kiddie hacker conference" has been widely circulated on the Internet, attracting a lot of attention on the strength of its title.The substance of the item is that an event for 8-16 year olds is being organized alongside Defcon 19, the annual hackers event in Las Vegas from 5-7 August
Pointing out that police, intelligence agents, military officers and the consultants working for them and know to attend, and recruit from Defcon, Reuters reporter Jim Finkle suggests this event will be:
an opportunity for U.S. federal agents to size up tech- savvy youngsters who could form the next generation of digital crime-fighters.
The Reuters story also led to some concern being raised on the Defcon Forums:
Has Defcon really become tame enough so that 8-16 year olds won't be traumatized by what they see?
My concern with the media telling people Defcon is kid friendly is an influx of people that may not be as responsible as those who have attended in the past.
These fears have been allayed by the response of StealHead "the unofficial/official spokesman" for DefCon Kids Forum and website who has pointed out that DefCon Kids is to be held in separate conference rooms and registering for the event requires a parent or guardian to be present.
The How Strong Is Your Schmooze Kids Edition contest requires a blend of social skills, password cracking, ciphers, lock picking and good old fashion social engineering It will take place alongside talks and demos and the schedule for the Classroom and Workstation have been posted on the Defcon Kids site.
The rules for participation and a sign up form can be found at http://www.social-engineer.org/social-engineer-ctf-for-kids-at-defcon-19/.
The idea of introducing kids to the positive ideals of white hat hacking at an early age seems a good one so lets hope that this first ever kids contest is successful enough to become an established part of Defcon.
We need kids to be interested in programming and we need them to be white hats - so outreach is to be encouraged even if it does ruffle the feathers of the "establishment". Hacking is exciting, glamorous and attractive to a younger audience so let's put their talent to use on the right side of the "black".