DEF CON teaches kids the art of hacking for a good cause
DEF CON, the largest gathering of computer hackers, held its first of a series of classes that aim to teach children and teenagers on how to hack computers.
The series of classes, which the organization aptly named DEF CON Kids, launched at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. The different sessions held during the day were targeted to cater to boys and girls between the ages of eight and 16.
In addition to learning how to hack computers, children and teenagers were also taught some rather questionable topics like how to pick locks with the use of toilet paper rolls and pen caps and how to find information about a person like his or her social security numbers out of corporate trash bins.
While the said convention may cause many parents to be worried, the organization—which is mostly composed of computer security professionals—assured that the said classes have been geared with good intentions, aiming to equip children and teenagers with knowledge and skills to help government and business organizations make the Internet less vulnerable to attacks carried out by computer criminals.
Adam Steed, a computer security professional in Salt Lake City, Utah, was one of the many parents that saw the benefits of bringing his 13-year-old nephew to attend the classes being given in the convention.
“You can watch lock-picking videos on YouTube,” he pointed out. “But where do you hear the ethical side of this? Not on YouTube. I would rather [have] someone learn [it] in a controlled environment. They (children and teenagers) are going to learn it anyway.”
Bo Holland, a father from Austin, Texas, said that it’s cool for kids like his 10-year-old daughter, Isabel, to see and learn how the technology and video games they use all the time actually work.
“Ultimately, it will make the kids safer,” he said, “especially in this age of social networking when the collective memory of the Internet has no expiration date. You can say ‘Oh we don’t want to hear how this (hacking) stuff works and that’s scary…But it’s really important kids know how to protect themselves.”
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