Cackalackycon 2024

Cackalackycon is a hacker convention that takes place in North Carolina, and I was able to attend this year. It took place over the weekend of May 17th at the Doubletree by Hilton in Durham. For me, it was my first “big” hacker convention, with probably several hundred people in attendance, and lots of activity each day of the conference.

I took my fiancee with me, and it served a double purpose of being a vacation for us, and a conference for me. So I didn’t go to all of the talks, in fact, I only went to a few, but I was very happy with the overall experience.

Being a hacker convention, there are a wide variety of talks that cover many different areas of expertise and interest. One of the talks I attended was called “JS-Tap Mark II: Attacking Web Apps with Even More Red Team Shenanigans”, and it focused on using something called “JS-Tap” to monitor and capture data using JavaScript. There was another talk, “Taking D-Bus to Explore the Bluetooth Landscape”, which looked at a protocol called D-Bus, and involved demonstrations showing how data could be captured using this protocol. The techniques and the hardware involved were very specific, but at its core it’s a straightforward demonstration of how devices using this protocol could be hijacked for whatever purposes.

Aside from the main talks were the various “villages”, where you could engage in Capture the Flag or lock picking. I didn’t head over to the Capture the Flag village, as I don’t really consider my skill set to be on the level that it would require. In hindsight though, it would have been a great opportunity to be part of a team of other Capture the Flag contestants, and a good networking opportunity at that.

The lock pick villages were a nice way to get hands on with some really low-tech, old-school hacking techniques. I wish I would have spent a little bit more time here, because picking locks presents an interesting challenge which I’ve messed with a time or two. There was a vendor on hand that had lots of different mechanisms and kits for sale, as well as practice locks you could try your skills on.

Badges seem to be a big part of hacker conventions, and Cackalackycon delivered, with a “hardware hacking” village dedicated to taking they parts they give you at registration, and assembling them into the finished badge. The badge had a cool LCD screen, a breathalyzer (really neat addition), and the lights would blink. The software that ran on the badge provided information about the convention, had some interesting games (including a version of breakout that responded to how you physically turned the badge), and could also be tweaked with the right programming.

Overall, I was really happy with my experience at Cackalackycon and will definitely return next year.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *