The Cult of the Dead Cow (cDc) changed the culture of the entire security industry, the attitude of companies who had ignored risks, and even how the feds dealt with hackers. The panel discusses their greatest hits and screw-ups, highlighting the lessons for other hackers out to make a difference.
- cDc is a key figure in the history of InfoSec and hacking
- cDc has three key qualities: critical thinking, moral causes, and adaptability
- Critical thinking is essential in all walks of life
- Moral causes are fundamental to cDc's work
- Adaptability is essential in a rapidly changing world
- The panel discusses cDc's history and its impact on the security industry
The founders of cDc were three punk kids from Lubbock, Texas who started the group in the mid-80s. The group's name came from a play on the phrase 'cult of personality' and the idea of dead cows being a symbol of the meat industry's disregard for animal welfare. The group's early work included bulletin board operators and text files that were funny and irreverent. Over time, cDc became a standard-bearer of hacker culture and a force for change in the security industry.
The Cult of the Dead Cow changed the culture of the entire security industry, the attitude of companies who had ignored risks, and even how the feds dealt with hackers. In this session, four key figures from the group’s first 35 years will cover their greatest hits and screw-ups, highlighting the lessons for other hackers out to make a difference.
They will be questioned by Joseph Menn, whose new book on the group shows how it evolved from a network of bulletin board operators to the standard-bearers of hacker culture. cDc Minister of Propaganda Deth Vegetable and long serving text-file editor Omega will appear for the first time under their real names, covering the group’s formative years and how it handled such recent controversies as WikiLeaks, neo-Nazis, and the presidential candidacy of cDc alum Beto O’Rourke.
cDc tech luminaries Zatko and Rioux will discuss the release of Back Orifice at Def Con in 1998, which allowed non-hackers to hijack Windows machines, drawing worldwide attention to the insecurity of Microsoft’s operating system, and Rioux’s pathbreaking sequel, Back Orifice 2K, which prompted Microsoft to hire hackers as security consultants, including those from Zatko and Rioux’s @stake. Zatko will share insights from leading inside the government, where he ran cybersecurity grantmaking at DARPA, the people who brought you the internet. And Rioux will explain what’s possible in the private sector, where he co-founded unicorn Veracode, which dramatically improved code review by major software buyers.