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Defcon Guide 2.0

By   WirelessPhreak      Saturday, April 08, 2017      Labels: ,  

This is the 2.0 version of my previous Defcon Prep Guide. Every year more people ask me about attending Defcon for the first time. Many are intimidated or not sure if they should attend. I hope to address their concerns and sway them toward checking out Defcon.

Should I Attend: This is probably the first and most frequent question I get about Defcon. There is a lot of lore and hype around Defcon much of which is earned and deserved, but you don't have to be a 1137 black hat hacker to go to Defcon. Defcon has something for everyone, and I mean everyone. Defcon is usually broke up into 4 tracks that are loosely themed and diverse. So diverse you can generally find talks that interest you in any of the tracks. Check out this link to Defcon 24's schedule to get an idea of what the talks are about.

But the talks are just a small portion of a much bigger convention. As a first time attendee, I would recommend spending most of your time in the different villages, and competition areas. These are smaller convention within the convention where people who are interested in anything from Ham radios, to social engineering, to car hacking can spend the entire day hanging out with people who share their interests.  Here is a link to Defcon 24's Village Talks.

It may seem overwhelming but just find something that interests you and don't try to do everything.  Oh ya and drink some beer, there will be a lot of it.

When is Defcon: Its normally held towards the end of July or beginning of August. It's a good idea to get there a day early, usually Thursday, to buy SWAG and get your badge because it gets super busy the day of.

ProTip: You will want to go down Thursday morning or stay up parting Wednesday night to get your badge.  People start lining up around 4:00am for the Convention passes.

How Much is Defcon:  The registration fee goes up a little every year, and they will post the fee as we get closer to the Con. Most everything at Defcon is cash only including the ticket, and for the love of god don't use an ATM any where near the convention.
  • Registration: $230 to $250 (just a guess)
  • Hotel: Defcon room rates differ depending when you book, but Defcon usually negotiates a good price.

Where to Stay: Staying at the hosting hotel is a must.  It's nice to just head up to your room between talks, and attending the late night festivities are a breeze since you only have stumble to the elevators. Reserve your rooms early for Defcon, the hosting hotel sells out quickly. 

Added bonus; If you stay at hosting hotels Defcon will stream the talks and schedules to the hotel rooms. This is not always guaranteed especially when they move to a new venue, but they usually work it out.  

What to Bring:  A few essentials I bring to Vegas.
  • Snacks because eating at the CON can get kinda pricey, plus a lot people save the money for drinking.
  • Buy a cheap throw away cooler for refreshments and ICE in the room.
  • A laptop "AT YOUR OWN RISK" If you bring your laptop do not bring it to the Con, leave it in your room and even then disable your wifi, bluetooth, and do not use the hotel Internet.  Defcon's network, including the hotels, have been deemed the most hostile network in the world.  Even the cellular network is hostile and usually sucks anyway, "Thanks Ninja Tel". That being said, if you have a fresh wiped laptop and you want to partake in the festivities bring it just don't use it for anything other then hacking, and reformat when you get home.
  • Cell Phone, if you have an old school flip phone bring it.  If you bring your smart phone make sure to turn off the radios, i.e. wifi, bluetooth, etc. Nothing is safe.
  • Aspirin for obvious reasons
  • Your finest hacker tees, there kinda a big thing, and a comfortable pair of shoes.  You will be standing in some lines, imagine a Disneyland for hackers...
Useful Links:

Twitter to Follow:
  • @defcon
  • @wallofsheep
  • @DC_HHV
  • @toool
  • @dcib

Hope to see you there, you can hit me up at @hackercult on twitter and the convention

About WirelessPhreak

Just your everyday Packet Wrangler who enjoy's traveling and anything techie...