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[Defcon 17] DC17 Badge Hacking Contest Results

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  • [Defcon 17] DC17 Badge Hacking Contest Results


    We had 32 contest entries this year up from twenty of DEFCON 16 and seven of DEFCON 15. The submissions ranged from simple firmware modifications to hardware modifications to additions of random things using only the badge as a mounting plate. Words cannot describe how awesome it is to see what people come up with each year, especially after the torturous design process of the badge!

    Those who know me know I play no favorites, but with more close friends participating in the contest each year and with the overwhelming number of submissions to decide from, I decided to bring on The Dark Tangent and Zac Franken to help with the judging. We each reviewed the submissions and selected our favorites, then narrowed down the Top 3 and Honorable Mention from there. A few people have said "You shouldn't allow friends to participate in the contest," which would rule out a large majority of DEFCON. The contest exists to award the most ingenious, obscure, mischievous, or technologically astounding badge modification created during the weekend and is supposed to be fun and encourage people to try new things and show off their skills. Nothing more than that, nothing less.

    For next year, as opposed to awarding the Top 3 in an all-inclusive category, I'm thinking of creating multiple categories and choosing a winner in each one:

    * Best hack using available features (for example, this year would have been microphone, LED, and digital signal controller functionality)
    * Most relevant to DEFCON
    * Most mischievous or obscure
    * Best use of a previous year's DEFCON Badge

    However, since there is only *one* black badge to give away, the overall winner would then be picked out of those category winners. If you have any thoughts on this, let me know.

    DC17 Badge development information (schematics, firmware, slides, links to badge hack project files, etc.) can be found on my site here:

    Pictures of all the entries are here:

    And, some videos here:

    Thanks to everyone's support and participation. I hope to see you next year!

    Joe Grand aka Kingpin

    1ST PLACE: Anti-Surveillance System by Zoz
    This entry comprised two phases:

    1) Defeating automated facial recognition by generating alternating colors and patterns of light at a frequency slightly less than 60Hz in order to create optical noise (based on research demonstrated at the 2006 ACE, Advances in Computer Entertainment)

    2) Aiding in bypassing PIR motion sensors ala the movie Sneakers using the DEFCON 16 Badge. The badge had a temperature sensor to let you know when the room was the proper ambient temperature (body temperature is ideal) and then a servo motor would move two plastic feet to guide the user as to how slowly to move through the room to not trip the system (two inches per second in the movie).

    2ND PLACE: Sound-Fearing Blimp by Team Hack the Badge
    Three badges attach to the bottom of a toy blimp. Each badge drives a fan based on the sound level detected on its microphone, which effectively steers the blimp away from high noise areas.

    3RD PLACE: Multifunction Dialer & Voice Amplifier by 501d3r Guy
    A multifunction dialer with three different modes:

    1) Blue box/MF
    2) DTMF
    3) Voice amplifier

    Could easily be expanded to support other tone/frequency generation.

    HONORABLE MENTION: Super Mekka Uber Badge Hack by Smitty & The Minions/Team Halibut
    This was the only team to combine all seven badges together, complete the puzzle, and take advantage of the badge-to-badge communication feature. They modified the stock firmware to perform some LED animations across all of the badges. A great exercise in teamwork and social engineering.

    OTHER ENTRIES (in no particular order):

    John & Nathan Liddle
    DEFCON CD Player

    Breathalyzer add-on (no badge connection)

    OLED Display playing DEFCON videos via SD card (no badge connection)

    Pseudo Random Lighty Pathy Thing
    LED movement on an X-Y grid of LEDs based on some PRNG and Fibonacci sequence wackiness

    Kris (UAT)
    Paper Electronic Badge (did not function)
    Tried to recreate the badge circuitry on one of the temporary paper badges.

    32-bin FFT with 15 PWM-controlled LEDs and selective display of dominant frequencies.

    Mercury Switch Reset ("Shake to reset" to avoid sleep mode)

    Optimized Tomfoolery
    Geiger counter-based RNG w/ serial output

    Matt Shepard
    Pseudo Accelerometer LED Output
    (intended to be a musical instrument, but he ran out of time)

    Polygraph Test (GSR & heartrate, filtering w/ DSP & Neural Network)
    Voice input had no effect, but would have been cool
    Seemed to work well when he asked all sorts of incriminating questions!

    WiFi Jammer
    External VCO hacked from digital camera and controlled from the badge's RGB LED output.
    2.4V-2.9V PWM output from LED
    Works approx. 50-60ft.

    Bo & Brad
    Real-Time Power Spectrum Analysis aka "Chick detector"
    Microphone input from badge passed via serial port to a PC for more complicated offline processing and GUI display

    Fort Awesome
    - Recording audio onto SD card (@ 4kHz sampling)
    - Keystroke detection (offline processing on PC), audio & neural network training w/ 70-80% accuracy based on previous research
    - Self-patching reset vector in firmware

    Team Bash Fork Bomb :(){:|:&};:
    Light(-based) Beer Fetcher (did not completely function)

    Team Bash Fork Bomb :(){:|:&};:
    Battery-powered web server (using DEFCON 16 Badge)
    Website stored on SD card
    Project page:

    OLED Display w/ Bluetooth Scanner and Real-time Microphone Input Power Meter

    Mark Renouf & Jason Scott
    BBBS (Badge Bulletin Board System)
    Serial communications, LED control, menuing system
    (didn't get completely working)

    Jason (on behalf of Thinkhaus)
    Analog (Paper) to Digital Badge
    Recreated the badge circuitry on a perfboard, created an aluminum case for it using military resources at Nellis AFB

    White LED bling w/ pedometer hack (no badge connection)

    Captain Ahab & The Whalers
    Tilt-Sensing LED Control
    (wanted to do two-player Simon w/ FFT tone recognition, but ran out of time)


    - Exclusive Peek Inside Defcon’s High-Tech Badge, July 29,
    - DEFCON 17: Early Badge Details, Hack a Day,
    - The Hacker's Badge Of Honor, Forbes, August 4,
    - Hacking the DefCon 17 Badges, Threat Level, 8/4,
    - Hacking the Defcon 2009 badge, NetworkWorld.TV (YouTube), 8/3/09,
    - Kingpin's Defcon 17 badge, MAKE, 8/3,
    - Hacking the Defcon badges, InSecurity Complex, CNET News, 8/5/09,

    - END OF FILE -