Top Hackers Value Anonymity–So They Pay Cash

DEF CON is the premier annual convention of the hardcore hacking community. It began yesterday and runs until August 4 and is being held at the Rio Hotel in Las Vegas. One of the popular events at DEF CON is a game that is similar to “capture the flag” in which contestants vie to mine information from the websites of large companies like AT&T, Fed Ex, and Target as well as profiles on LinkedIn. No personal data are stolen and the larger aim is to demonstrate the vulnerabilities of the target companies. Last year the winner of the contest demonstrated on stage how he was able to hack into WalMart in twenty minutes.

By the way, the fee to attend is $180–payable in cash only. The following statement appears on the DEF CON website

DEF CON 21 costs $180 USD cash. Do we take credit cards? Are you JOKING? No, we only accept cash – no checks, no money orders, no travelers checks. We don’t want to be a target of any State or Federal fishing expeditions.

Hmmm, I wonder why there’s no mention of payment in Bitcoin?


  1. Being in Brazil, I check the Oanda currency conversion site pretty regularly. I see they have now added BitCoin to the list of worldwide currencies that they track. DEF CON evidently is not with the times.

  2. The organizer of the event recently tweeted (July 24):
    “Q: If you accept bitcoins for payment, how long does it take to clear the transaction to be certain of no fraud?”

    I’d expect them to have a system for accepting Bitcoin in place for next year. Considering the nature of the event, especially the nature of the attendees, I, too, would want to fully understand a digital payment system before using it at my conference.

    In any case, Bitcoin has made cameos throughout the event.

    For instance, vendor badges (which are interesting technology in and of themselves) feature the Bitcoin logo:

    Also, a user on Reddit shared an image of a makeshift Bitcoin ATM, where users can buy bitcoins instantly with coins: (

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