What we were thinking: The Enigma Factor #1 of the Enigma Book Series-

Author Insight –

All conventions are not created equal

We wanted to focus on a well know event that many high end geeks have attended. Though through the years the people have changed, the focus is the same. See and be seen.

Our main character Jacob is well qualified for this event and these people but this is the start of events for him that will change his life forever.

Quip has been a technologist that one only crosses paths with at odd intervals. The guys in this group are opinionated and totally not shy.

We wanted the venue to alter the course of Jacob’s life to be different. What happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas, right?

Love to hear your feedback.

Excerpt-The Enigma Factor

DEFCON is a convention that brings together the high-end hacker and cracker community to discuss and share information regarding Open Source, security, technology changes and associated technology shifts. A very broad range of folks attended, some of whom he might know from previous events and some simply by reputation.

While looking at the convention offerings and deciding what he would attend, he laughed when he came across the titles of a couple of seminars, Mamma, don’t let your babies grow up to be Pen Testers which touted the other side of the penetration testing business; and Lock Picking designed for the younger up and coming cracker crowd. He could have used DEFCON when he was eight even though his Granny and Mom had already made sure he was well-coached in technology.

He registered for several sessions which interested him, including Staying connected during a Revolution or Disaster; Traps of Gold; Hacking the Global Economy with GPUs or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Bitcoin; Owned Over Amateur Radio: Remote Kernel Exploitation in 2011 and Covert Post-Exploitation Forensics With Metasploit. He received the summary of his selections with his badge. Jacob really wanted to attend all the forensic sessions as he could apply this information to his work and to his personal endeavors. The first session was scheduled for early morning.

Wandering around the floor, he saw many vendors and their products. Like any convention, there were sellers, buyers, observers, and personal networking opportunities. It was a place to be seen. The best of the best good guys or bad guys attended this event. Even the FBI had a booth for recruiting folks. He knew from his three month internship at the FBI, while in his final semester at MIT, that they recruited from the top one percent at all the technology schools. They had made him an offer, but he really didn’t want to work for the government, at least not yet. His Mom had suggested he get a wide range of experience domestically and internationally before considering a government position. She didn’t trust the government, but Jacob suspected that was more from her time in Europe than her life in the U.S. Of course that was purely speculation on his part. Too bad she was so secretive about her overseas exploits and family history.

He ran into a few guys he had seen in prior years. Outside of possibly tripping on one another in a chat room, they rarely communicated. Funny they all seemed to have instant recall on prior discussions, so it was to a degree like seeing old friends. These were all brilliant guys with a passion for technology and information security and basically White Hats. Like him they mostly hated social media postings, like Facebook or Twitter, as that was viewed as great fodder for social engineering and often resulted in identity compromise or out and out identity theft. They took their financial, personal, and family security very seriously. One of the grey beards, tag name Quip, had brought his 12 year old nephew. Quip said his nephew was getting really good at finding vulnerabilities, and Quip was glad that some sessions at this year’s DEFCON would help keep the kid on the good side of the fine line.

Many guys he knew had signed up for a few of the onsite contests that were taking place, then regrouped in a central spot for lunch, and serious people watching. Comments about passing folks, as well as speculation on their status and predisposition for good or evil made for lively conversation. Jacob suspected the group was correct ninety percent of the time. He saw one guy pass with a shirt like his and the group made some positive comments about the guy and his abilities. Jacob could only imagine what they’d say when he wore his shirt tomorrow.

You could tell the long term hackers as their skin resembled fish underbellies with their only color being from creative tattoos which covered all genres and in many cases much of the exposed skin. Even at a convention like this the Feds were spotted with their well-cut suits. Very few females in the crowd and yet the younger set seemed about split between girls and boys. Then he caught sight of the lady he’s seen at the check-in desk coming out of the exhibit hall.

Quip made a low whistle, and said mostly to himself, “Well lookie here, Petra decided to make an appearance after all. That makes this just a whole lot more interesting now.”