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    Thursday, July 24, 2008

    Last HOPE conference (Hackers on Planet Earth) Part 2

    The Last HOPE conference (Hackers on Planet Earth) in NYC 2008
    Part 2 (Friday)

    On Friday, I went to see a fellow techie lawyer’s presentation, “Botnet Research, Mitigation and the Law.” You always know when a lawyer is speaking with the, “Don’t take this as legal advice,” spiel. It was great how Alex Muentz truly is technical and, at the same, time gets the legal stuff right, too. I didn’t get to talk to him much at the conference beside a brief discussion regarding how some lawyers (especially those in big firms) shy away from hiring techie lawyers, but I saw him fly past me later during the con. on one of the Segways that he had taken off the Segway race track.

    Robert Steele with “Earth Intelligence Network: World Brain as Earth Game,” has it right when he says that bureaucratic organizations that lock up most of their information are making it difficult to improve society and security through secrecy. I liked his analogy to the open/free software and hardware movement, but you will either love or hate his presentation style. His in-your-face kind of approach and occasional profanity is one of a kind.

    “From a Black Hat to a Black Suit: How to Climb the Corporate Security Ladder without Losing Your Soul,” was hilarious. In addition to the fact that this IT security professional was begging more women to go into IT, he was a likable presenter and made a good point about keeping any arrogant sysop and black hat tendencies at home. The suit, in some IT departments, will be your new uniform.

    One of the most interesting technical presentations of the whole conference was today: “Advanced Memory Forensics: Releasing Cold Boot Utilities.” This team from Princeton’s CS dept. proved that if you think your key is gone and not retrievable from DRAM when you pull the plug or leave your computer in sleep mode, think again. I’m going to check out his code.

    One of the most informative, “How Do I Pwn Thee? Let me Count the Ways,” was about how average Bob could be “owned” with his unsecured wireless devices. Even Bob’s wife was theoretically owned by an unsecured wireless sex toy accessible with phone text messages. With that, Renderman brought up an interesting criminal law question: “Is that rape or just bad encryption?” Never before had I heard those terms in the same sentence, but aside from the sniggering in the audience, it was a novel question. I won’t describe the details of the presentation, but go to’s site and listen to the audio file.

    “Hacker Space Design Patterns,” has inspired a few of us in the Portland, Maine area to look into downtown commercial rental space to set up a hacker space. A hacker space, usually as part of a monthly membership, is part inventor’s lab and part techno hang-out. It’s a place where techie hackers can congregate and, most certainly (part of the culture), drink highly caffeinated beverages while tinkering with electronics and software/hardware projects using expensive tools and equipment whose cost is split among the group . On the drive back to Maine after the conference, we discussed working on a 3-D printer and what type of investment, equipment and legal agreements (two of us are lawyers, so legal stuff comes up immediately—can’t help it) we’d need to start the space.

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