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DefCon Night 1: Team Kegbot

Defconlogo_2LAS VEGAS, July 30 -- Spent an educational evening last night with maybe 20 hackers who were elegantly mixing alcohol and technology into a wicked cocktail recipe that is sure to revolutionize fraternity parties from this day forward. The clever concoction of which I speak is none other than the "Kegbot," an idea dreamed up by a cadre of researchers who spend most of their time working out the bugs and security traps that hound wireless networks and an up-and-coming technology known as "radio frequency identification," or RFID for short.

RFID is a technology the federal government is pushing to be incorporated into all passports needed to enter the country; it offers the ability to store information that can be read at short distances by electronic devices that can then process that information. Wal-mart is already using the technology to keep track of goods that move in and out of its warehouses and stores, and the company is moving to implement RFID into everything it has for sale on the shelves. The technology has caused a fair amount of discussion among privacy groups worried that it could be abused to spy on people and for other nefarious purposes.

Kegbot, however, relies on an RFID alternative called an "iButton" that transmits its stored information on a tiny metal button that snaps onto an electronic reader and is used to track the progress of several teams of hackers (and at least two journalists) engaged in a fairly high-tech drinking game.

The Kegbot is basically a keg inside of a mini refrigerator, the "kegerator" popular on college campuses that comes with a built-in beer tap. Each team is allotted one iButton, which they must snap onto an electronic reader on the front of the Kegbot in order to initiate the flow of suds from the tap. The mechanics of this device are simple: no iButton, no beer.

The data captured when a drinker places an iButton on the reader includes the volume of beer consumed by each team (measured in fluid ounces and fractions thereof), data that is fed through an Ethernet cord jutting out of the back of the fridge to a laptop nearby that monitors the imbibing progress of each team. When a team member snaps the iButton onto the Kegbot, a digital readout on top of the fridge greets the team by name (the team I was recruited into joining comprised mainly hacker members of the Shmoo Group -- more about them in a later post) and displays the total volume of beer team members have stomached.

Lest dear readers think this is a project dreamed up by a bunch of bored hackers, it is important to note that at least two of those involved are extremely bright technologists working for a very large Internet search engine company that I was politely asked not to name. One of Kegbot's chief architects is a guy named Mike Wakerly, who said he hopes the device will one day find a home at frat houses whose members are interested in safely conducting competitive drinking games over the Internet: Wakerly said the Kegbot can easily be configured to cut revelers off after they have had a pre-determined number of drinks, something he hopes will promote responsible partying. The next Kegbot prototype may even include a built-in breathalyzer, he said.

For the record, Team Kegbot, the group comprised mainly of people who spent nine hours soldering and splicing this device together today, won the competition hands down.

By Brian Krebs  |  July 30, 2005; 7:32 AM ET
 
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Next: DefCon Day 2: Patching Your Hacker Toolkit

Comments

I ask readers accross the Internet to write to John T. Chambers, President of Cisco Systems regarding Black Hat confrence and Michael Lynn Saga. since then Things at Cisco systems moved in the negative direction. Among the negative happenings at Cisco the following stand out. 1. Cisco used its legal Muscle for Lynn to voluntarily agree to a permanent Injunction, 2. agree to refrain from participation at Black Hat Confrence, 3. Chambers issued a statement that Lynn was silenced because he had obtained the vital information illegally and had to be silenced, 4. Cisco issued a baa humbug patch to cure the flaw disclosed by Lynn.

This is not the way a CEO of a major Multinational should act. He can't silence a researcher after his result uncovers negative information. People can't trust Cisco. Nobody knows how good the patch, issued by Cisco is if people can't talk about if the Patch is useless. Microsoft issues daily patches to windows operating systems. I know because I'v Windows XP.

The least that Chambers should have done is to 1. vacate the temporary Injunction, 2. Hired the researcher Michael Lynn back and 3. assured the world that he is as concerned about the matter as Michael Lynn is.

John T Chambers can't be trusted. He has to go, not Michael Lynn the researcher.

I ask every reader to write to John T Chambers asking him to resign as Cisco CEO and telling him you are writing to every Director to fire him if he does not resign.

I'm listing below the names of every Director of Cisco Systems and his Assress. Please write asking him to fire Jon T. Chambers if he does not resign.

Address of John T Chambers, CEO Cisco Systems, 170 West Tasman Drive, San Jose, CA 95134-1706

His Telephone number 408-526-4000

Names and Addresses of Director of the Board of Cisco Systems

1. Jerry YANG, Yahoo Co-founder 701 1st ave, Sunnyvale, CA 94089

2. Donald T Valentine, Partner and Co-founder of Sequoia Capital, 3000 Sandhill Rd Building 4, Suite 180, Menlo Park CA 94025

3. Steven M. West, Partner and Founder of Emerging Company Partners LLC 551 Lantern Court, Incline Village, NV 89451

4.Richard M. Kovalevich, Director, C/O Barclays Global Systems, 45 Freemont St, 17th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94106

5. John P. Morgridge, C/O Cogent Communications Group
1015 31 St, Washington DC20007

6. Roderick C. McGeary, 1676 International Dr, McLean, VA22102

7. James T. Gibbons, 10001 Louisiana St, Houston, TX 77002, second Address Professor, Research, Electrical Engineering Dept., Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305

8. Michele M Burns, Exec VP, Mirant Corp., 1155 Perimeter Center West Atlanta, GA 30308

9. Carol Bartz, C/O Auto Desk, INC., 111 Mc Innis Parkway, San Rafael, CA 94903

10. John L. Hennessy, President, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305

11. James C. Morgan, Chairman, Applied Materials, 3050 Bowers Ave, Santa Clara, CA 95054

Please also write to the following parties that have voting agreemebts with Cisco for election of Directors:

1. H. Perry Barth, Chief Accounting Officer, NetSolve,
2.Jeffery Guillot, Vice President Development, NetSolve
3. Russel Sellers, Product Development, NetSolve
4. Jerry J. Quade, VP Human Resource, NetSolve
6. Richard Hamilton, VP, Service and Delivery, NetSolve
7. David P. Hood, CEO, NetSolve
8. Gregory K. Jones, VP Sales, Net Solve
9. Michael Guillard, Cornerstone Mgmt Profit Sharing Plan, P.O. box 1203, Menlo Park, CA 94026
10. John McCarthy, Gateway Venture Partnership 8000 Maryland Ave #1190, St. Louis, MO 63105
111.Guillard Family Trust, P.O. Box 1203, Menlo Park, CA 94026
12. George N Gregoise, Rancher, Editor, Columnist, CIO Magazine
13.Spectra Enterprise Resource LP, 1119 St. Paul St., Baltimore, MD 21202
14.Howard D.Wolfe Jr., General Partner of Venture Partners I LP; New Venture Partners LP, New VEnture Partners II and III LP, 1119 St. Paul, Baltimore, MD 21202
15. James J. Zucco, Corzente, Inc., 444 Madison Ave, 39th Fl. New York, NY 10022
16. Joseph Luckenhoff, VP, Product Management, AT&T Wireless, 150 Mount Airy Road, Basking Ridge, NJ 07920

Note: the address of NetSolve (1 to 8) is 12331 Riata Trace, Austin TX 78727

It is important that John T. Chambers, CEO of Cisco Systems should go instead of Michael Lynn. You can make it happen. Act on it. Please.

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