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Inside Def Con: World's Biggest Hacker Gathering

Whatever this massive hacker-party-turned-industry-extravaganza has become, this week host Ben Makuch descended on Las Vegas to see what Def Con is all about in 2019.

by Ben Makuch
Aug 16 2019, 2:20pm

For over 25 years, hackers, spies, cops, Silicon Valley-types, technologists, and even politicians descend upon Las Vegas, Nevada for what’s become the pre-eminent hacker conference in the world: Def Con.

For cyber journalists, the conference is a nonstop source-fest and social circuit that takes place in a blur of various casinos and hotels blaring top-40 hits. It’s also been the site of high profile arrests of hackers such as Dmitriy Skylarov in 2001, or Marcus Hitchins (AKA ‘MalwareTech’), who stoppedWannaCry in its tracks before being scooped up by the FBI in 2017.

But Def Con (its name a reference to the famous hacking movie WarGames) wasn’t always so mainstream. Before hosting countless infosec talks and capture-the-flag games, it used to be a sort of anarchic hackfest, with attendees trying to outdo one another by infiltrating each others devices' or hacking personal info.

Whatever this massive hacker-party-turned-industry-extravaganza has become, this week CYBER journeyed to Vegas to witness what Def Con is all about in 2019.

This article originally appeared on VICE US.