CHILDREN ARE BEING INVITED to a conference in the US to learn how to become hackers, providing that they don a white hat first.
The conference dubbed Defcon Kids will be held in Las Vegas in August and will invite children between the ages of eight and 16 to learn useful hacking skills.
Defcon is a hacker event that has been held every year since 1993, but this is the first time that a children's equivalent will be hosted.
A major emphasis of the event is the use of hacking skills for positive purposes. The children will be encouraged to put their knowledge to good use and avoid the temptations of becoming a black hat hacker, which involves breaking into web sites and stealing money and data.
The children will primarily learn a number of defensive computer techniques, such as how to prevent spying over wireless networks, according to Reuters. They will also learn how to open master locks, how to find exposed data on Google, how to hack hardware to play a game, and how to break codes. Most of these skills are useful as part of penetration testing, which is used to highlight security flaws that need to be addressed in systems, as opposed to exploiting those flaws.
Like the adult version, US authorities, intelligence officials and security officers will be attending to keep an eye out for promising hackers who can be hired to help fight cybercrime.
It makes sense to target a younger age bracket, since a growing number of children and teenagers are becoming involved in hacking. The early exposure to computers means that kids are often far more advanced than adults, leading to situations where teenagers are becoming involved in criminal hacking groups or being hired by governments and law enforcement agencies to fight against crime.
The need for this event has become more apparent in recent weeks after a spate of attacks on web sites and servers throughout the world, including those of Sony, the US Senate, the FBI, the CIA, and the UK's Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA).
Ryan Cleary, an alleged member of the group thought to have been behind some of these attacks, Lulzsec, was arrested this week and charged with five offences. Those charges related to hosting a botnet and using Distributed Denial of Service attacks (DDoS), a method of flooding a website with illegitimate traffic until it is forced offline. Cleary is only 19 and has been involved in hacking since at least 17, if not long before then.
This fact highlights how young people can be at risk when they get involved in hacking and how necessary it is to highlight to children that they can participate in hacking in a legal way that benefits society instead of causing online chaos and digital mayhem. µ