When you say “a Hacker convention” people immediately picture a bunch of nerds, with no social skills except for Instant Messaging who have no life except for 2nd Life and whose only purpose in life is to wrack havoc and bring down systems and take over the world (as Brain would say to Pinky).
Whilst some of that might be true, Hacking has raised itself from a basement of someone’s mom to real revenue generating companies. No longer is it below that radar as we recall Murdock who had people hack voicemails and recently a mother hacked into her children’s school and changed theirs grades.
At a hacker convention, the last thing you use is the free WiFi as you will get pwned (ie “owned”) within minutes. There are sniffers, scanners and every script imaginable running on the WiFi just to exploit anyone dumb enough to trust it. Most people simple use the GSM cellular network as it is safer. However, last year, there were rumours that even that was vulnerable. So how do you protect yourself from prying FBI eyes and ears ?
Simple. Create your own Cellular Network.
And that is exactly what a group did at DefCon this year. To show off their phone-freaking skills & they created Ninja Tel. No, they didn’t take out Iran’s nuclear facility (not yet anyway) but over a 10 month period they created their own Cellular Mobile Network.
The system is made up of a GSM base-station that housed inside an official looking van along with a 12-foot antenna and various networking and Web app servers.
The group gave away 650 Ninja Tel HTC ONE V phones running Android (of course) to those who have contributed over the years to DefCon. The phones were also preloaded with various apps allowing the users to make phone calls, text, chat, hold conference calls, and play a sword-fighting game. The phone is also able able to interface with a vending machine that dispences free Coke or Beer to the Ninja Tel users. User could select their own numbers and upload their pic that appeared on everyone’s contacts.
Pretty impressive to build your own Telco. They even had hard-hats too.