September 21, 2019

Sledgehammers can’t even stop these hackers

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By Jack Morse From Mashable

A man in a hotdog suit repeatedly smashes a computer with a sledgehammer as raucous cheers fill the room.  

No, you did not just wander into a David Lynch dreamscape, but rather the d(struction)20 CTF at the annual DEF CON hacking conference in Las Vegas. The competition, which pits a group of hackers and researchers against each other in random security and cryptography challenges, comes with a very DEF CON-esque twist: Participants are subject to the roll of a 20-sided die, and the resulting number corresponds to physical damage inflicted upon their computer. Then they have to complete the next challenge. 

Possible outcomes from each roll include: drops, hammer smashes, being placed in a trash bag filled with iron filings and shaken up, random deletion of data, having an inverted can of duster unloaded inside your computer (thus freezing it), and, oh yeah, watching your device get fried with a Tesla-coil gun.

There’s even a 7-year-old who will black out your screen and keys with a sharpie for good measure. Or, if she’s feeling spiteful, she might write “you are dumb” across a participant’s monitor. Spoiler: She was feeling spiteful. 

“Do you have what it takes to build a computer that can withstand all sorts of damage,” asks the event page. “Alternatively, do you have a computer that you care so little about that you are willing to risk it being destroyed in front of a crowd of cheering hackers?”

It’s wonderfully ugly, but the worst is yet to come.  

Volunteers can ask to join the Church of Wi-Fi, which entails taking a shot of Malort and getting paddled on stage by a man wearing a Pope hat. 

“Forgive me lord,” announces a willing convert, “for I have used WEP and I wish to repent.”

The entire two-hour event is a huge crowd pleaser. After each form of destruction is visited on the computers, the audience — safely separated from literal flying debris by plastic sheeting — anxiously waits to see if they will boot back up. 

 “Oh s**t,” yelled one organizer from the stage after seeing a computer turn back on. “It works!”

Just pouring some iron filings in a bag with a computer.
Just pouring some iron filings in a bag with a computer.

While perhaps not as serious as the DEF CON Vote Hacking Village, or fixing major cybersecurity vulnerabilities in office printers, the d(struction)20 CTF provides the gathered hackers and security researchers a chance to have fun and show off their very particular set of skills. 

Also, seeing a Tesla-coil gun fry a computer is just plain fun.

The competition serves another purpose as well: reminding the common man that not even a sledgehammer can stop these hackers from cracking your ****.

For more on this story and video go to: https://mashable.com/article/hackers-sledgehammer-def-con-d20ctf/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Mashable+%28Mashable%29

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