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CNET News: Putting Fun Back into Hacking

Aug 06, 2002, 03:00 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Robert Lemos)

"A mix of teenagers to thirty-somethings, the hackers at the Defcon gathering here breathed second-hand cigarette smoke and quaffed Red Bull energy drink by the liter, their hearts beating to a techno rave track. They're a dangerous bunch, too: A hacker from the research arm of a rival company broke into the Weiss Labs server and found a flaw, causing the computer to eat up its own memory, finally crashing the system.

"'They didn't get root, but they did manage to DoS us,' said Crispin Cowan, head of the Weiss Labs' team. That is, the break-in didn't get all the way to the core of the server, but a denial-of-service (DoS) attack overwhelmed it with traffic.

"That may seem like a blase response to a serious security incident, but it's in the spirit of things at Defcon. Cowan and nearly a hundred other hackers and security experts were playing the latest incarnation of the conference's hacking contest, capture the flag. In real life, Cowan is a chief researcher with Wirex Communications, a maker of security software for the Linux operating-system, and his fictitious company, Weiss Labs, was one of eight teams taking part in the contest..."

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