I didn’t have a clue what I was in for…

This was my first adventure to the infamous Black Hat and Defcon Conferences, held back to back in Las Vegas. Black Hat was probably a good segue (for me) into the Defcon culture, which managed to add volumes more chaos and debauchery to the already existing confusion of sin city.

I could tell you about the presentations, but they’ll be posted online soon enough and probably enough other folks are serving up details of talks and slides. So, I’ll tell you about some of the other fun and stupidity that transpired over the past week. Here are a few anecdotal stories from the trip…

Birthdays? Yes! Stepto, Damon and Marisa. Happy Birthday all!

The Gathering. Through the ethers, we summoned other Security Twits and Bloggers to converge upon the oasis that was Casa Fuente… ‘the’ place for cigars and mojitos on the Vegas strip. How did it grow from 3 security geeks to almost 40? Find out from Michell’s analysis of ‘the gathering’.

The Seizure. Stepto got a special treat during my little prank, which probably took the non-tech pwnie award for after-midnight happenings. Here’s a video of the pre-flop toast for Stepto’s birthday :) thanks to Jack Daniel. The lore of the prank spread quickly through the conference and even several days later I was getting the ‘oh, you’re the one….!’ Jeff also includes a brief review of the events in his blog.

The Barge. We had several crazy dance nights in a row- everyone seemed to be ‘on board’ during our adventures to such unmentionable places as Cleopatra’s Barge. Hoff (aka my brother), Ryan (aka tha’ brotha’), Mortman, some random cut-in-dude and variety of other other Sec Twits gladly bumped and booty-shaked the night away. Alan, Martin and Mitchell were present but reserved and managed to stay off the dance floor… yet. Jeff Jones turned the topic tables on us, and described the evening in his Four Horsemen of Cleopatra’s Barge post (and photo) (borrowing Hoff’s Black Hat preso title).

The Shoes. It must have been the next evening we ended up at a party at Pure, one of Caesar’s ‘hot spots’. Being the snobby Vegas club that it was, we had a couple ‘wardrobe malfunctions’ going on. Martin ran up to trade in shorts for pants, and the bouncer didn’t like Mitchell’s ahem ‘Colorado Bumpkin’ shoes… however Mitchell wasn’t staying in Caesars, so we were limited on shoe-exchange options. Long story short, I ended up sneaking back out of Pure with a pair of men’s size 11 loafers tucked under my shirt (well.. sorta). While Mitchell then made his way past the bouncer with Alan‘s loafers on foot and sandals en butt (tucked under his shirt.. in the back). It was quite a scene. You can read the whole thing here, as narrated by Mitchell himself.

The Dolls. The private party area was crowded, so we ventured into the wild only to stumble upon prime viewing of the Vegas Pussycat Dolls show which was moments from starting. WHO KNEW Alan loved the Pussycat Dolls so much? You learn something new every day… whether you want to or not!

The Misquote. It wouldn’t be a conference without a journalistic foot-in-mouth. Hoff was the victim of an obviously uninformed media member sitting through his Black Hat presentation. As Adam put it… amazing what a difference a word makes.

The Hack. eWeek was hacked when 3 rogue ‘press’ attendees illegally sniffed and snatched traffic from the protected press room network. They were promptly ‘removed’ from Black Hat when they tried to get the staff to post the eWeek journalist’s compromised information, and they were banned from attending Defcon. (FYI for any customers reading my blog, this is why I did not use my laptop at the conferences and why you may not have received reply emails from me.)

The Mini-Mogull. I’m still a little unclear, but basically Hoff picked up some random (not at conference) short black dude in the valet area outside a hotel to stand in as a mini-Mogull in Rich’s absence… Somehow the guy actually met him at the party (Hoff was kidding when he threw out the location and room number), but mini-Mogull made it and was enteraining guests. How did he get in? He just told them he was Rich Mogull. Will post photos as soon as I can get some!

The Dinner. About 50 Security Twits converged upon Sushi Roku for a tasty (albeit looonnng) dinner. Thanks to Zach for organizing it- I’m sure it was no problem with his new ‘phone’… you’ll see below.

The Mystery. Upon entering the Defcon hotel, I (literally) ran into Jolly and his team as they ran through the casinos in pursuit of fortune and fame via mystery box challenge. I’m not sure if Leigh was with that group, but she was definitely in on the challenge, as was Kevin. Jill won something, although I can’t find now what exactly it was!

The Panel. If I were allowing adjectives and a third word in my two-word summary it would be ‘The DRUNK Panel’. I don’t know who thought it would be a good idea to follow up ‘Spot the Fed’ with a panel mashup of Mogull, RSnake, Mortman, Maynor and Larry… with live poetry jam displays by Hoff. Whomever it was, I’d like to shake their hand- it was HILARIOUS. It was more of a roast-and-toast, but I actually picked up a few little fun security gems and Rich got to show off his under-cover-wireless-hack-set (I know, who knew!) RSnake forgot what he was saying half-way through sentences a couple of times. Mortman filled in both serious speaking and taking over Hoff‘s poetry shennanigans during his bathroom and beer trips. Maynor was rambling on about something- goats was it? About… oh… 5 beers into it, Hoff obviously ran out of all ability to concoct a rhyme and started throwing one-liners.. occasionally one-worders… out on the right side display. Eventually he ran out of those and called me out… of the 5th row.

The Panties. There are a pair of XL (new) pink security panties (from Jinx) floating around still somewhere. They were meant for a certain somebody… but the somebody got their own panties in a wad and bailed early the last night.

The Morris. Even post-conference the jokes are still flying through the twittershpere of Zach’s ‘Zach Morris Phone’. Not quite a phone, but a very over-priced HP Jornada mini-something. Zach scored it for about $XXX, which seemed great until Hoff looked up eBay and found them for about 1/5 ($XXX). Whilst mulling it over at Casa Fuente, we decided he could actually go and sell it back to them for half of what he paid, buy the eBay one + shipping and still come out better. Well it was just a thought… I think it has Microsoft Access- so Zach can keep up with his new SecTwit-herding obligations with it. :)

The Hamster. No conference is complete without a hamster… or… at least Defcon was not complete until the incarnation of HamsterTwitty. No, not a country singer, a security party pet socialite with a pulse on the evenings agendas. I think it was after the Drunk Panel… Drunk Hoff and I were walking down the ‘elegant’ halls of the Riviera with Marisa when I pointed to a little hamster running in a little purple wheel in the window of the gift shop. Before I knew what happened, he had about-faced and was inside at the counter, tossing $10s and $20s at the cashier. He wanted the hamster and he wanted the purple wheel (not the blue one). We had some *fail* happening with batteries and wheel assembly, then HamsterTwitty was born and Vegas was his to pwn. HamsterTwitty scored not one, but TWO stretch hummer limos and evidently was quite the lady-getter.

The Badge. After waiting (too long evidnetly) for a ‘real’ badge, Jack became concerned that they would run out again and felt compelled to out-g33k the other attendees with a home-made Defcon badge. The photo says it all.

Other Stuff?? Did I miss anything? I’m sure I did… there were geeks, hackers, robots… pleather bustiers… lock picking kits… Wall of Sheep… a few lame parties…

What stories or photos do you have from Black Hat and Defcon?


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Author, speaker, and recognized authority on network and wireless security architectures, Jennifer (JJ) Minella helps organizations solve technical problems and align teams.

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  • My favorite part was when I social engineered the wall of sheep guys using only a phone that I stole from some girl. ;)

    Oh and I love the tweets from hamstertwitty!