Hou.Sec.Con 5.0 Experience (by an 8 year old)
It was October 16, 2014 and my parents picked me from my school (Harmony School of Science, Austin), to go to Houston, for the Houston Security (Hou.Sec.Con) 5.0 Conference. In September, we had driven to Kentucky for DerbyCon from Austin, which was about a 16 hour drive. So my dad, Mano Paul (@manopaul), said that this 3+ hour drive to Houston felt like it was nothing. Once we reached Houston the roads were crowded like crazy and so we were stuck in a traffic jam for a long time.
We were going to the Hou.Sec.Con 5.0, where I was invited to give the closing keynote.
Hou.Sec.Con was held in the Hotel Derek. It was a very fancy hotel. We first met Michael Farnum (@m1a1vet), one of the founders and President of the conference, who introduced us to the other two co-founders, Sam Van Ryder (@samvr) and David Nester (@david_nester_). I also got to meet Levi, Sam’s son. I had met Michael Farnum, once before at DerbyCon, and it was good meeting him again.
Then we went to a fancy speaker dinner at the Hotel Derek and met the Co-founder of NTObjectives, Dan Kuykendal (@dan_kuykendall) who was in our table.
Dave Kennedy (@HackingDave), who had come to give the opening keynote, came for dinner and I got to meet him there too.
The next morning, I listened to Dave Kennedy’s talk which was really good. He also said some kind words about me, and recognized my talk at DerbyCon by saying something like “I was very impressed by this kid, 8 year old kid, Reuben Paul, at DerbyCon …“. He encouraged the attendees at Hou.Sec.Con to not miss my closing talk. Thank you Dave. 🙂
After his keynote, my dad, gave Dave a cool HackFormers (@hackformers) T-Shirt with a binary code to decode (kinda hacker style). If you are a hacker, you should try decoding it … after all, it is a matter of life or death 🙂 Hint: There are two hidden things in this – One is ‘The Word’ and the other a reference to it. I was wearing my cool HackFormers polo too.
Then, Sam and Michael helped us get our badges, which I thought was super cool with the Lego Star Wars theme (@LEGO_Group). Note how my badge was all printed as a Speaker badge while my brother, mom and dad, had to write their name on their badges (lol) :-). My dad also said that for the first time, he was in a conference, where he was invited not as a speaker, but as an attendee and guest of a speaker – but he was cool with that. I could see that my whole family was very proud of me and also very happy to be there at Hou.Sec.Con.
My little brother, Ittai and I, then went and visited the sponsor/vendor booths and got some really cool stuff from different booths, like a mini lego figure, a book for dummies on 0-day attacks, and I got a sticker at each booth. There was a competition that you had to get a sticker from every booth and they would pick the filled in forms like a lottery to give some cool stuff. I didn’t win anything but that didn’t matter, as it was still fun.
In the afternoon, Dave allowed us to use his room at the Hotel Derek, since he had to leave to another Con (GrrCon (@grrcon), I think). Hopefully, one day, I would get to go to GrrCon as well :-). We went to Dave’s room and I practiced my upcoming keynote talk many times.
Then I went down stairs to have lunch and practice some more and while I was practicing, I met David Longenecker (@dnlongen) who was a friend of my dad and had been a speaker at HackFormers (@hackformers). At this time, Sam Van Ryder came and informed us that the local Houston Channel 2 news was interested in coming and doing an interview with me. I was excited and nervous at the same time.
Michael Farnum then called me and my brother aside, and gave us the really really cool. HouSecCon coins. Thanks Michael. These coins are being added to the DerbyCon and SocialEngineer.org challenge coins we have. 🙂
Then we went to the speaker ready room to do an interview with Slashdot editor, Timothy Lord. He asked me about ten questions ranging from the Government, our privacy and robots taking over the world. I think the interview went on well.
I didn’t have time though to test my lock picking skills or to do the CTF, because my talk was going to be in a few minutes, but I really wanted to. I met John Gordon (@indiecom) who had a really cool mohawk and who along with Alek Amrani (@_a13k_) was running the Bullseye CTF and Dakota Smith (@tristramin) who was running the lock picking booth.
My talk was about “Why Kids Make Really Good Hackers?”
It was about qualities that kids and hackers share which makes kids really good hackers. For example kids are creative, kids are curious, kids are credible and kids are cool just like hackers. David Longenecker was kind to tweet about this. Thank you David. Note: My company twitter account is @prudentgames and my personal one is @RAPst4r.
I also had the attendees sing with me, “Everything is awesome, Everything is cool when you are part of the team.”
I did a demo on how to harvest credentials using the Social Engineering Toolkit, get a shell by cloning a website like Facebook, and created a fake certificate to trick the user into accepting the fake Java applet.
I also did a demo on how a XSS works using the Browser Exploitation Framework (BeEF).
A big thank you to Clint Bodungen who recorded my talk. Please see the video (link below) to get my complete talk and send me your comments or thoughts. Hope you like it.
I got a standing ovation after my talk, which was awesome.
Dan Kuykendal, CTO of NTObjectives, who I had met at dinner the previous evening, tweeted about my talk some nice words. Thanks Dan.
Then Phillip Mena (@phillipmenaKPRC) from Channel 2 (KPRC) news agency in Houston interviewed me. It was basically on how my experience was getting into security and did a story on “8 year old Hacker keynotes at Houston Security Conference”. (Video link given below)
After the interview, I met Chris Tilton, Kevin Kujawa, Muni Chatarpal, and a few others who had come to the conference and who encouraged me for my talk, saying that they really liked it.
My dad then introduced me to his friend, Will Bengtson (@waggie2009), who is a also a friend of HackFormers and also gave me one of his really cool coin, with his Monkey Avatar and a binary code to decode on its edges. 🙂
It was a long but nice day. It was close to 6 ‘0’ Clock in the evening. We said bye to Michael Farnum and his family, to Sam Van Ryder and his son Levi, and to David Nester and the others whom we met.
Then we went drove to my mom’s friends house. Anuja aunty had made some really good home made pizza and Elango uncle was very kind in serving us all a nice dinner. We played with their daughters, Aarthi and Kritika for sometime, before driving back home.
It was about 10 ‘0’ clock in the night and I realized that I had not done my homework for the next day of school. So even though, I was really tired and sleepy, I did my homework, in the car, on my way home, half-sleepy.
Hou.Sec.Con was a wonderful experience and I want to thank my God Jesus Christ for giving me the gifts to be able to speak among security professionals as I am only eight years old. I also want to thank Michael, Sam and David for giving me the opportunity as as closing keynote speaker which is a an experience that I will always cherish.
I hope to be back again for next year’s HouSecCon and maybe I will do the opening keynote (Hint Hint – Michael, Sam and David ;-))
As I had said in my talk – Everything is awesome, Everything is cool when you are part of the team. Hou.Sec.Con was awesome as they truly made me feel as I was part of the team.
Thank you Hou.Sec.Con! Till we meet again, “Awesome, let everything be”, says Yoda Master Reuben 🙂
Hou.Sec.Con Closing Keynote – Why Kids Make Really Good Hackers?
Click2Houston News Story – 8 year old Hacker keynotes at Houston Security Conference
Originally published in Prudent Games website blog.