Labour day hackfest will have security systems crash and burn

The fourth annual hacker conference, Ruxcon, kicks off this Saturday at the University of Technology, Sydney

An underground community of Australia's "elite" will meet in Sydney for the fourth annual hacker conference, Ruxcon, this weekend. The two day conference kicks off on Saturday at the University of Technology, Sydney.

Ruxcon began in 2003 as non-profit event to bring together security enthusiasts and provide an opportunity for them to exchange ideas and techniques. While the technical focus of the event initially appealed to a small, specialised group of people, recent years have attracted a much broader audience, according to Ruxcon organizer Chris Spencer.

"We see Ruxcon as a computer security conference by the community for the community," he said.

Trivia, pool, a chili eating competition and of course hacking contests, are among the activities scheduled for the weekend. These are interspersed with 18 one-hour-long presentations on topics such as "Exploiting OpenBSD", "Anti-forensic rootkits", "Bypassing corporate email filtering", "Dynamic port scanning", and "Ajax security".

Highlights include "IPV6: Under the Hood" by McAfee principal security architect Mark Dowd, which will expose methods of subverting firewalls, creating covert communication channels, and discovering information about other hosts.

In another keynote presentation, titled "Attacks Against RFID", wireless and RFID security specialist and self-proclaimed ethical hacker Josh Perrymon will cover the ins and out's of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) attacks, such as passport cloning. In addition to his lecture, Perrymon also hopes to unveil a world record long-range RFID antenna that he is building.

Ruxcon presenters hail from Australia, New Zealand, USA, Belgium, Greece and United Arab Emirates, and are either directly involved in the local computer security community, work professionally in the security industry, or are security enthusiasts.

Presenters and presentation topics were chosen by organisers earlier this year, based on technical merit and interest value.

"Every year we try and provide a unique line up of speakers presenting cutting edge talks with a strong technical focus on either offensive or defensive aspects of computer security," Spencer said.

Spencer expects up to 450 attendees at Ruxcon 2006. Previous years have attracted about 350 "white hat" and "black hat" hackers, who are typically system administrators, IT managers, law enforcers and University students aged between 18 and 40.

"Ruxcon could be described as the Australian version of [U.S. hacker conference] DEFCON," he said. "Obviously we are a lot smaller than the overseas conferences but Ruxcon has a unique Australian flavour and feels a lot more social and friendly."

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Liz Tay

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