There were Thirty-Two Villages at DefCon 31, each with their own mission and culture. Cybersecurity hackers from all over the world went in and out of these villages. It was a peaceful, controlled chaos of twenty-four thousand people, young and old, village people and nomads, punk and straight. In this fifth chronicle we provide a quick glimpse of the many Villages of DefCon.
This is fifth DefCon Chronicle in the Series. Its began with Where Tech Elites, Aliens and Dogs Collide – Series Opener. The second chronicle was Hackers Response to President Biden’s Unprecedented Request to Come to DefCon to Hack the World for Fun and Profit. The third was my Village of special interest, the AI Village, described in Sven Cattell’s AI Village, ‘Hack the Future’ Pentest and His Unique Vision of Deep Learning and Cybersecurity. The fourth was The Hacker Olympics – ‘Capture The Flag’ Games with 1,828 Competing Teams.
Overview of All Thirty-Two Villages
The DefCon Villages include a variety of hacker sub-cultures and education opportunities. There was a Village for everyone. Here is a complete list of all 32 Villages in DefCon 31, including each village’s self-introduction; their words and icons, not my own.
|A.I. Village. Come learn how ChatGPT, StableDiffusion, malware detectors, ML firewalls, and other AI based products work and how to break them. We will have talks sharing the latest research on these almost futuristic topics, as well as talks on developments in AI in traditional security. We will also host workshops for security experts new to AI to get you up to speed.|
|Misinformation Village. We will apply our organizational skills and subject matter expertise to bring together experts from different professions, governments, civil society and private enterprise to come together and create a platform to define and combat misinformation, explore and align missions and tactics to achieve this goal.|
|XRVillage. Provide access to XR devices and applications for the security community for vulnerability testing; provide guidance & collaborative recommendations back to Policy makers, legislators, law enforcement, vendors, users, and the world on best Security, Privacy, and Safety practices in XR.|
|DEFCON GROUPS VR (DCGVR). DEF CON Groups VR brings hackers / DEF CON Groups together in Virtual Reality setting.|
|Blue Team Village. Blue Team Village (BTV) is both a place and a community built for and by people who defend computer systems, networks, and people against cyber-attacks. It’s a place to gather, talk, share, and learn from each other about the latest tools, technologies, and tactics that our community can use to detect attackers and prevent them from achieving their goals.|
|Aerospace Village. Through the Aerospace Village, the security research community invites industry leaders, researchers and academia interested in aviation and space security, safety, and resilience to attend, understand, collaborate together to achieve our common goals. The Aerospace Village welcomes those who seek to improve aviation and space security, safety, and resilience through positive, productive collaboration among all ecosystem stakeholders.|
|Biohacking Village. The Biohacking Village brings forth compelling issues in emerging biotechnology, regulations, medical and pharmaceutical manufacturing, cybersecurity, and citizen science. We have been a platform for pursuing greater depth in the bioeconomy, exploring new avenues for collaborations, and innovation.|
|Crypto & Privacy Village. Crypto & Privacy Village (CPV) is a community-run village centered on privacy and cryptography that aims to educate and inform the general public, students, educators, hackers, security and privacy professionals, and policymakers.|
|Appsec Village. Come immerse yourself in everything the world of application security has to offer. Whether you are a red, blue, or purple teamer, come learn from the best of the best to exploit software vulnerabilities and secure software.|
|Blacks In Cyber Village. The Blacks In Cybersecurity (B.I.C.) Village seeks to bring culturally diverse perspectives to the holistic Cybersecurity community; by way of a series of talks and a capture the flag event. In providing these activities, we hope to help highlight Black experiences, innovations in the field, Black culture and educate the community about Black history.|
|Carhacking Village. The primary goal of the Car Hacking Village is to build a community around discovering weaknesses and exposing vulnerabilities that could significantly impact the safety and security of all drivers and passengers on the road today.|
|Cloud Village. Cloud village is an open platform for researchers interested in the area of cloud security. We plan to organize talks, tool demos, CTF and workshops around Cloud Security and advancements.|
|Data Duplication Village. If you’re looking for something to fill up all your unused storage, we have a few nice hash tables and all of the DefCon talks. Add to that just about every other security con talk known to human-kind! We provide a “free-to-you” service where of direct access to terabytes of useful data to help build those hacking skills.|
|Embedded Systems Village. Embedded Systems Village advances the security of embedded systems by hosting hands-on hacking workshops, showcasing new security research demos, and organizing exciting hacking contests to educate attendees and manufacturers on the approach hackers use to attack these devices.|
|Ham Radio Village. Continuing this pioneer spirit, Ham Radio Village is here to support advancement of the hobby with a cybersecurity slant.|
|Hardware Hacking Village & Soldering Skills Village. Come discover hardware hacking tricks and tips regain some of that capacity, and make your own use for things! We have interactive demos to help you learn new skills.|
|ICS Village. ICS Village is a non-profit organization with the purpose of providing education and awareness of Industrial Control System security.|
|Lockpick Village. Want to tinker with locks and tools the likes of which you’ve only seen in movies featuring secret agents, daring heists, or covert entry teams? Then come on by the Lockpick Village, run by The Open Organization Of Lockpickers, where you will have the opportunity to learn hands-on how the fundamental hardware of physical security operates and how it can be compromised.|
|IoT Village. IoT Village advocates for advancing security in the Internet of Things (IoT) industry through bringing researchers and industry together.|
|Packet Hacking Village. The Packet Hacking Village is where you’ll find network shenanigans and a whole lot more. There’s exciting events, live music, competitions with awesome prizes, and tons of giveaways.|
|Payment Village. Come to the Payment Village and learn about the history of payments. We’ll teach you how hackers gain access to banking endpoints, bypass fraud detection mechanisms, and ultimately, grab the money!|
|Physical Security Village. The Physical Security Village explores the world of hardware bypasses and techniques generally outside of the realm of cyber-security and lock-picking. Come learn some of these bypasses, how to fix them, and have the opportunity to try them out for yourself.|
|Password Village. The Password Village provides training, discussion, and hands-on access to hardware and techniques utilized in modern password cracking, with an emphasis on how password cracking relates to your job function and the real world .|
|Quantum Village. We are committed to helping raise awareness and involvement in the quantum industry and with quantum technologies.|
|Policy@DEFCON. Policy will build connections across and between technical and policy experts and provide opportunities for attendees interested in learning more about how policy and technology intersect and to examine the challenges at this intersection.|
|Radio Frequency Village. The Radio Frequency Village is an environment where people come to learn about the security of radio frequency (RF) transmissions, which includes wireless technology, applications of software defined radio (SDR), Bluetooth (BT), Zigbee, WiFi, Z-wave, RFID, IR and other protocols within the usable RF spectrum.|
|Telecom Village. The Telecom Village’s primary focus is around Telecom Security. We plan to host multiple hands on events as part of the village so as to give participants an overview security specific challenges in a Telcom Network.|
|Tamper Evident Village. The goal of the TEV is to teach attendees how these technologies work and how many can be tampered with without leaving evidence.|
|Recon Village. Recon Village is an Open Space with Talks, Live Demos, Workshops, Discussions, CTFs, etc., with a common focus on Reconnaissance. The core objective of this village is to spread awareness about the importance of reconnaissance and open-source intelligence (OSINT) and demonstrate how even a small piece of information about a target can cause catastrophic damage to individuals and organizations.|
|Red Team Village. The Red Team Village is focused on training the art of critical thinking, collaboration, and strategy in offensive security. The RTV brings together information security professionals to share new tactics and techniques in offensive security. Hundreds of volunteers from around the world generate and share content with other offensively minded individuals in our workshops, trainings, talks, and conferences.|
|Social Engineering Community Village. We plan to use this opportunity at DEF CON to present a community space that offers those elements through panels, presentations, research opportunities, and contests in order to act as a catalyst to foster discussion, advance the craft and create a space for individuals to expand their network. DEF CON attendees can either participate in these events (watch for our Call for Papers, Call for Contestants, Call for Research, etc.), or they can watch the events unfold and learn about Social Engineering as an audience member.|
|Voting Village. Voting Village is an interactive educational environment that provides the public with the unique opportunity to have a hands-on experience with our current Election Infrastructure. Attendees will be able to interact with multiple different types of voting systems, all of which are currently in use across the country today.|
For a glimpse of the culture of one village, which everyone seemed to like, the Red Team Village, consider its introduction above. It uses words that best describes Hacker culture as I know it. It says the Red Team Village is focused on training the art of critical thinking, collaboration, and strategy in offensive security. That is the Hacker Way: training, critical thinking, collaboration and strategy.
We conclude with a video recap by the RedTeam Village. Note the diversity of the Village people and the emphasis on hands-on training and good times. Like many of the Villages of DefCon, RedTeam has their YouTube page. Unfortunately, we missed picking up any of their swag, but they do have a store. As you will see on the video, the Red Team Village had their own, very intense Capture The Flag tournament. They awarded $25,000 worth of prizes to the top three teams. The winning team actually started as a lone hacker on day one, but he was later joined by two others in the second and third day. That is incredible. Reminds me of the CTF tournament scene in the great tv show, Mr. Robot, where Elliot Alderson easily wins the CTF with his next-level skills.
The big RedTeam CTF contest had many sponsors and was open to anyone without pre-event qualifications. Mr. Robot could have walked in and proven his leet status.
The red Team CTF is unlike the main CTF at DefCon, which took place all year long and had 1,828 teams. It had no cash prizes, just bragging rights, which, frankly, is worth its weight in gold. These are the best cybersecurity experts in the world. DefCon Chronicles: The Hacker Olympics – ‘Capture The Flag’ Games with 1,828 Competing Teams.
Finally, I’d like to point out that many of the Villages had education and places and events for kids too. See this DefCon 31 description.
I’d guess that a slim majority of hackers attending DefCon were parents. Although not that many were like me, and brought a kid along, but some did. In one village a Dad and son were greeters at the door and both seemed to be having a great time. I know that my daughter and I did, although she is no child!
It takes a village to raise a child. Eventually, if the DefCon hacker villages prevail, and governments continue to help, we will make cyberspace a free and safe place for kids of all ages to play and learn.
Ralph Losey Copyright 2023 – All Rights Reserved – Does not include RedTeam Village videos and DefCon Village descriptions.