"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..."