Def Con 23: Where PR stunts and hackers come together
Having outgrown the odiferous corridors of the Rio, hacker conference Def Con entered this year by relocating to Bally's Hotel and Casino -- a venue described to me, in turns, by a Mandalay Bay hairdresser as "a shithole," a taxi driver as "a punishment" and a Mandarin Hotel bar waitress as "totally haunted." It turned out to be all that and much more.
Def Con's move to Bally's and its adjoining property Paris allowed it to accommodate an estimated 20,000 attendees this year. And, like a goldfish growing to fit a big new bowl, the talks, expo, workspaces and hacking villages filled the vast ballrooms in each hotel to the limits. Lines for talks were long, and huge ballrooms were packed. In a time when stunt hacks garner headlines readymade for cartoonish CSI: Cyber plotlines, overhyped hacking talks were more overcrowded than ever; companies engaged in successful PR subterfuge on a bigger stage; and the U.S. government basically begged us to like it.