The registration info for hackernews.com says the domain was first registered on July 29, 1998. Ten years ago, today. wow. You know, long strange trip and all that. News wasn’t actually posted to the site until a month or so later but July 29th is as good day as any to celebrate. (or should that be commiserate?) HNN was only around for a little under two years but I like to think the site had a pretty big impact, not just on the hacker underground it reported on, but the security industry as a whole. Hell, at one point MSNBC claimed that HNN was “the voice of reason” amongst all the hype. When HNN started search engines were just starting to aggregate news, hell even Slashdot was new, by the end the ‘security portal’ was all the rage. The site existed during that formative stage of the security industry before which security was something seldom thought of and after which Venture Capitalist where throwing money at it.
For a walk down memory lane take a look at the first news day September 10, 1998 (Spelling mistakes and all, ahhh Spaceronics!) and the last day I posted the news June 16, 2000 (What is really amazing is that the links to CNN on the 1998 page STILL WORK! ten years later. Kudos to whoever built that site.)
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So The Last HOPE is over and while I am still here in New York (the reason why Iâ€™ll save for another day) I have been contemplating the events of the weekend. All in all I thought the con ran extremely well which is a bit unusual in my experience for HOPE. While there were a few excellent talks that I mentioned in my previous post I found many of the talks to be… elementary. But hacker cons are sooo much more than just the talks and presentations, they are time to reconnect with old friends, friends you only see at cons and online. Time to drink bears and retel old war^h^h^h hacking stories. The fact that this is the â€œLastâ€ HOPE and that 2600 the book has just been released I have been reflecting on my own travels through this underground maze. From my first real introduction to hacker culture at HoHo Con â€˜92 held in Houston Texas to the â€˜lastâ€™ Pump con in Philadelphia just a few years ago. In â€˜92 the internet did exist but getting access to it was a bit more difficult. I remember making a modem call from my HP95LX from my hotel room to post news from HoHo con back on the hometown BBS. By the time of the first HOPE in 1995 the Internet was much more prolific but still new and shiny. The First HOPE captured that excitment of newness and the possibilities that it presented. Here at The Last HOPE people are live twittering (tweeting?), disecting talks and heckling in real time from behind keyboards. Change is of course inevitable but I think what I am seing here is a change in the culture itself. Sure parents are now bringing their kids to the same cons they snuck out of the house to go to, but I think it is more than just the core population growing older. There is a definite shift in how people interact and react to each other and technology. I havenâ€™t quite been able to put my finger on it but I have been feeling it all weekend. Much like the first HOPE opened a new chapter I got the feeling that this last HOPE is closing a chapter in hacker history and culture. It makes me wonder what comes next?
P.S. Rumour has it that the Hotel Pennsylvania will not be torn down due to the poor economy. In which case, if it is still standing, the next HOPE will be in 2010. (Eternal HOPE?, HOPE Pheonix?). Personally I think if this con continues they should come up with a new name. The era of HOPE is over.
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After you attend more than a half dozen or so hacker cons you start to realize several recurring themes amoung presentation topics. Topics such as Freedom of Information Act requests, hacker spaces, or hacker history have been done several times at various cons. The Last Hope is no different as these topics have recurred here as well. The difference here is that the presentors of these topics have each taken a different more interesting slant and have actually presented new and useful information. The FOIA talk has actually motivated me to file a few requests myself. The Hacker Spaces presenation actually broke down many of the problems that we ran into at the L0pht and even some we didnâ€™t have and actually codified them all with solutions creating almost a blueprint for anyone wanting to create thier own hacker space. And Sketch Cowâ€™s talk on hacker history makes you stop and think when you realize that future historians may only have major media sources such as hollywood movies and copies of Newsweek to try to understand what all hacker culture was all about.
Looking forward today to talks on Phone Phreaking History, Copying High Security Keys, Honeypots for the Home User, and the premier of Hackateer.
Can’t be here and are missing all the action? Check out the Live twitter feed and the Flickr stream.
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I’m sitting on the floor of the eighteenth level of the Hotel Pennsylvania at The Last HOPElistening to Karsten Nohl talk about the (Im)possibility of Hardware Obfuscation as he discuss tracing connections in integrated chip design. Heady stuff. Already ran into Lady Ada from AdaFruit Industries and Road Dancer from the old (defunct?) HDF.
So far it is a very interesting crowd mix, there are your standard hacker types but here also seem to be a lot of â€˜normalâ€™ people as well. The crowd seems sedate but there is a certain electric charge in the air present at all hacker cons. The real fun will come later tonight as people absorb all the new information presented at the talks and start to mix it up amongst themselves. Good stuff.
Check my flickr stream for pictures.
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You may have noticed over there on the right hand side of this website a link to Attrtion.org’s DLDOS or Data Loss database. The DLDOS (despite the poor choice of acronyms, or was that on purpose?), like Attrition’s Defacement Archive before it, is an extremely useful tool that has become the authoritative archive of privacy and data security breaches and is used extensively by researchers in the field. Even to just casually browse through the over 1000 listings of data breeches is an eye opening experience. Most of these breeches never make the news or if they do are seldom on the front page. With more and more companies attempting to keep such security lapses secret such a resource becomes more and more valuable. As the database’s usefulness has grown so has the resources needed to keep it online. Resources that Attrition.org just does not have. Thankfully Attrition has been able to find someone else to maintain and support this valuable resource.
As of July 15th the Open Security Foundation (OSF) will take over maintenance and expansion of the database. The new system will have much more data and many more feature and be available as a free download for non-profit use. Bravo to both Attrition and the OSF not only for creating and maintaining this resource but also for making sure it does not disappear.
Check oput the new DataLoss DB here.
P.S. See you all at The Last Hope. I’ll hopefully have several blog posts from the show floor.
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