Tech heads ready for wahck fest

PASTY-FACED computer enthusiasts will leave their command centres—their bedrooms—to attend Perth’s first ever hacker conference this weekend.

WAHCKon will revolve around a series of talks from fellow hackers and IT security professionals.

Founder Peter Hannay say his conference focuses on preventive security and won’t be a hacker’s guide to the universe.

“It will be hacking in the traditional sense of the word, which refers to the technical mastery of a particular field,” he says.

“Around 200 people have registered for the two-day event—it’s generated a lot of interest and excitement.”

The conference has a capacity of 250. Speakers will include ex- law enforcement, financial and security experts.

WAHCKon will include talks on physical lock-picking, an increasingly popular sub-culture for computer hackers.

“What is the point in having the best network security in the world if someone can pick your front door, walk in and physically steal your hardware?” he asks.

“This has become more important for some hackers than any virtual security.”

This month the Obama administration declared a public research project examining cybersecurity to be “criminal conduct”.

Mr Hannay, an ECU computer science researcher, says he has never experienced any pressure from Australian authorities while investigating the security of mobile devices.

Last year he discovered a way to hack in to smartphones by mimicking a Microsoft Exchange server, gaining access to private information that could have allowed him to delete data.

Microsoft Exchange is the mail server for Microsoft Windows, combining email, calendars and contacts is used on many Android smartphones.

“Edith Cowan University has an ethics committee and a legal board which approves any projects which we undertake,” he says.

“We probe for security flaws in small embedded devices like smartphones; the US crackdown was on a wide-ranging, extensive global survey on cyber security”.

Mr Hannay’s research is part of an ongoing ECU investigation into the flawed relationship between servers and mobile devices.

WAHCKon will be held May 4 and 5 at Edith Cowan University.

For details visit http://www.wahckon.org.au.

by STEVE POLLOCK

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