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Kids These Days: Hacker Conference for the Tween and Teen Set

Starting young.We’ve come a long way since Matthew Broderick got in all that trouble with NORAD in War Games

The DefCon Kids conference debuted this past weekend for hackers aged 8-16 years old, ushering in a brave new world where the hacker skill-set is finally given some long overdue props and  a venue is provided for kids to work on their mad puzzle and computer skillz.

Honestly, I thought this conference sounded like a massive vanity project for all the parent hackers that have been attending the DefCon Hacker conference for the past 19 years. But after checking out the agenda for the event, I wished that my kids could’ve gone.  With classes like “Secrets Revealed,” all about the code-breakers of WWII that beat the German’s Enigma machine, a keynote that goes over the ethics and legal issues of hacking, and speakers from the NSA and Dept. of Homeland Security, it sounds like a geek’s dream weekend.

The founder of HacKid, which helped put together the agenda for the DefCon Kids conference, Chris Hoff, represents the type of parent you can most easily imagine attending the conference with his children. He describes his kids as being “born digitally native” and genetically predisposed to hack. Keynote speaker and DefCon founder “The Dark Tangent,” aka Jeff Moss, professes to be “jealous” of kids these days because they have so many advantages with all their friends on computers compared to when he was boy.

While the session on “Puzzle Solving,” which appears to be code for Hacking 101, might seem alarming:

Often, very high security locks can be opened in seconds because of design flaws or problems that can be exploited. Locks and their defeat can be seen as the solution to a puzzle. The trick is to figure out what the “secret” is that will allow the lock to be opened without the right key or combination.

In our presentation, five experts will discuss and participate in demonstrations of how different locks have been analyzed and defeated through the use of imagination, commonly-available items, and an understanding of how things work. large component of the conference and sessions deal with the ethics of hacking and how security professionals use their skills to protect people, not exploit them.

In actuality, a large component of the conference and sessions deal with the ethics of hacking and how security professionals use their skills to protect people, not exploit them. With gifted, computer-savvy children and hacks available for pretty much every electronic device in one’s household, I think conferences and workshops for kids to teach the legal issues and ramifications of their tinkering is something that should be on a parents’ radar, especially if they themselves aren’t so technical.

Would you attend a hacking conference with your child? Do you hack things around the house with your kids?

Photo by Llewi034 at en.wikibooks

Looking to jump start your kids tech skills? Catch Babble’s Tips for Buying a Computer!

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