Wednesday, December 22, 2004

So what!

I went to the PakCon 2004 today. They have changed themselves from "Pakistan's first Hacking Convention" to "Pakistan's first Cyber Security Convention". The president, [fz], talked about this paradigm shift, emphasizing that "here in Pakistan" the term "hacker" is often attributed to a cyber junkie with an evil mind and an eye for compromising other people's systems. Hence the shift. However whatever I was expecting about the convention that it might be interesting, on a large scale atleast, went down the drain. I realized today that there were absolutely no advertising, no marketing plans, no nothing. Even the Neelum Hall, where this convention was supposed to take place, didn't hold one single banner proclaiming anything that was going on inside. The actual event started at around quarter past ten, almost an hour and a half late. What else do you expect when you live in Pakistan? As usual, the Chief Guest hadn't arrived, and so the proceedings couldn't go on. However there was one interesting lecture titled "Phreaking: Past and Present". This was delivered by Emmanuel Gadaix, an information security and telecommunication expert. It was interesting, covering phreaking from the very basics and early times with blue boxes to the modern, enriching phreaking done with sophisticated equipment and by intelligence agency people. Almost after it began the "Capture the Flag" contest. This had six systems on the network running WinXP with RedHat 6.2 through VMWare. The participating teams had to penetrate the opponents' systems and place flags in their systems. The central server swept regularly checking the services and detecting any flags. The score was based on a combination of strategies. Bottom line: We didn't win but we didn't lose either. We did the decryption that was pretty basic, shifting the letters only 13 places and the decoded message appeared! All under 3 minutes! Tomorrow is the Wardriving contest, where teams would have to search for wireless access points. The teams that detects the most will be the winner. I hope we get the wireless enabled laptop early in the morning tomorrow. You can visit the PakCon 2004 website at

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