It’s that time of year again… time for the annual CarolinaCon security conference. This year promises to be bigger and better than last year — it has expanded from 1.5 days to 2.5 days, and it has moved from the somewhat undistinguished Holiday Inn in Chapel Hill to the somewhat less undistinguished Holiday Inn in Raleigh.

Notably missing was the “Master” of masters of ceremonies, Al Strowger. But Vic Vandal and his cohorts seemed to have the show in order. Personally, I can’t imagine a Con without the provocative charms of Al. But we’ll see how they do.

As usual, the Con started with a short after-work session on Friday night. There were three presentations to get the crowd warmed up.

Cybercrime and the Law Enforcement Response – Thomas Holt, a.k.a. Professor Farnsworth

The good professor never disappoints, and he really had a challenge this time, to warm up an otherwise un-primed crowd. He dove right in, with the not-so-statistically-significant results of a survey of state and local law enforcement officers, asking about their experience with computer crime. It was not surprising to find that most LEO’s were not very well versed in the specifics of computer-based crime, but they had a pretty good appreciation for the concepts. Thank you, CSI. Many trends and prejudices were revealed, and Dr Holt and members of the audience supposed several reasons why these might be so.

The Search for the Ultimate Handcuff Key – Deviant Ollam

If the crowd was not warmed up before Deviant Ollam took the stage, they certainly were after. He and the TOOOL team showed how handcuffs work, and how they can be defeated, sometimes with simple items like a piece of notebook paper!

But just as important as the actual material they presented, was the chosen format of their presentation. In true CarolinaCon fashion, they began by mixing a pitcher of their beverage of choice… tonight’s choice was a “Stone Fence” (one part Apple Jack, three parts hard apple cider, and a splash of bitters). Every time something in their presentation went unexpectedly, they would take a drink — this rule was strictly enforced by the audience.

In case that was not interesting enough, each live demonstration of handcuff picking techniques was accompanied by background music from a famous X-rated movie from the 1970’s and 80’s. In many cases, an audience member was able to “name that movie” before the lock-picker had freed himself, thus winning a prize.

Now this is the CarolinaCon that I came to see.

Microcontrollers 101 – Nick Fury

Finally, Nick showed the audience how to think small… he introduced the AVR microprocessor and the “Arduino” board and tools. Then he showed a few demos of what a small board like that can do. Certainly a tool that many hackers can add to their toolbox.

With these three presentations, the Con begins. We’re looking forward to Day 2, which brings a full day of hacking. ┬áSee you at 10am.