Source : Wired (Of course as well on 2600.com )
This weekend, a few thousand systems-obsessed individuals will be able to fuel their paranoia in workshops that promise to reveal in hellish detail the wicked machinations of governments and big corporations.
They will also scoff at the misguided attempts of the "amateur" security workers who are charged with keeping them out of computer systems. They will openly share information on how to subvert those computer systems. They will privately worry whether their obsessive need to dissect data could lead to jail time.
And they may create a few balloon animals, engage in a wet underwear contest and reprogram their brains via downloads of tasty adult beverages.
Most of the above is slated to happen at "H2K2," the fourth annual gathering of "Hackers On Planet Earth." (The balloon animal and wet undie events are just a suggestion.)
According to conference organizers, "strange, self- conscious or just plain annoying" people of all ages are welcome at H2K2 (HOPE 2002 -- you don't have to be a hacker to attend the event. But the conference, sponsored by renowned hacker magazine 2600, is obviously intended for those who have more than a passing interest in technology.
"But of course, anyone with half a brain should care about technology now," insisted Nate Edwards, a Manhattan systems administrator who plans to attend the conference. "The way I see it, you're either a target or a techie. You can learn to use it or you'll be abused by it."
Like any other convention or conference, HOPE is really just a chance to get together and swap stories round-the-clock with a crowd of people who are all fanatically fixated on a single subject. But HOPE has distinguished itself from the pack of one-topic gatherings by its organizers' proven ability to pull together a particularly eclectic -- sometimes downright eccentric -- program of presentations and panel discussions.
This year, in addition to the predictable how-to workshops on hacking virtually any device that is connected to a communications network or possesses a computer chip, H2K2 will also feature workshops on political activism, popular culture, hacker ethics, finances and legal issues.
"HOPE opened my eyes to hacking, showed me that it was about self-education and rigorously exploring to get answers to your questions," Toronto-based technical writer Ian McDonnell said. "Prior to attending HOPE in 1997, I thought hacking pretty much equated (with) criminal activity. But HOPE's emphasis on politics, culture and science really impressed me."
National security, not surprisingly, will be a prime focus at this year's conference, with several workshops and discussions devoted to the problems and potentials of new security systems.
Cyber-sleuth Richard Smith will speak on why face-scanning systems don't work, author Peter Wayner will discuss what you can and can't do with steganography (the art and science of hiding information in digital data), and federal agent Mike Levine will speak on "The Vanished Art of Human Intelligence" (an analysis of how the World Trade Center disaster could have been averted).
There will also be a question-and-answer session with former intelligence agent Robert Steele, who promises to answer any and all questions about governments' methods of information gathering.
Sessions on how post-Sept. 11 legislation could affect those whose curiosity compels them to poke and prod sensitive areas of computer systems will also be offered.
Entertainment options will include a public network set up specifically so that attendees can amuse themselves by attempting to hack into it. Anyone can connect their computer to the network, but should also expect to have their system poked and prodded for possible security holes. The only rules: don't break or destroy data or the network, and share whatever you discover.
There will also be screenings of Owned, a new film that documents five decades of hacker culture, and Freedom Downtime, a documentary on the protests sparked by the U.S. government's actions against hacker Kevin Mitnick, who was incarcerated without bail for nearly five years.
Saturday afternoon will feature a "Hooray for America! All-Star Musical Revue," presented by members of hacking group "Cult Of The Dead Cow."
All that patriotic fervor is expected to lead into the official release of two eagerly anticipated, privacy-protecting applications developed by Hacktivismo, the Cult's special operations group. In a statement, Hacktivismo said that both applications are intended to enable free access to information and protect users' privacy.
H2K2 will take place July 12-14, 2002, in New York City, at the Hotel Pennsylvania. Admission at the door is $50, payable only in cash, and includes admission to all scheduled events.