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(Charlotte) Exploring the Changing Nature of DEFCON over the Past 14 Years

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  • (Charlotte) Exploring the Changing Nature of DEFCON over the Past 14 Years

    Exploring the Changing Nature of DEFCON over the Past 14 Years
    Dr. Thomas J. Holt, Assistant Professor, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

    DEFCON began in 1993 as an “orgy of information exchange, viewpoints, speeches, education, enlightenment...and most of all sheer, unchecked PARTYING.”(DEFCON 1 Announcement, 1993). Fourteen years later, the convention is one of the most established hacker conventions, and is defined as “the largest underground hacking convention in the world.” However, significant social and technological changes have occurred during this period. The growth of the Internet, the increased need for computer security and the increasing significance of computer crime may have critically affected the shape and scope of the convention over time. This talk will critically examine the DEFCON convention over the past 14 years to understand the ways the con has changed, using previous convention materials, including programs, panels, and websites. The content, nature, and scope of the convention will be considered, including the number and types of presentations, as well as the presenters’ credentials. This information will be assessed to consider what this says about the nature of the convention and the underground after 14 years. Audience participation is welcomed to inform this discussion and provide first hand insight into the past, present, and future of DEFCON.

    Dr. Thomas J. Holt is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Criminal Justice at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte specializing in computer crime and technology. His research interests include a variety of topics in computer and cybercrime, especially hackers and hacking. Over the past few years, Dr. Holt has examined the elements that compose hacker subculture, as well as hacker social organization through multiple data sources. His primary goal is to understand various social aspects of hacking and the computer underground from the hacker’s perspective. Dr. Holt has also given a number of different talks on computer crime issues and published on computer crime victimization around the globe.