Saturday, June 19, 2010

West Virginia Needs a Better Hacker Community

First let us define the term hacker. The word hacker has been adopted by the press to mean someone who breaks the law using a computer. Some hackers are criminals, but most are not. It's sort of like saying all motorcycle clubs are outlaw gangs. Hackers push the boundaries of technology, and sadly some hackers push the boundaries of the law and end up in jail.

Hackers build things. Hackers secure our networks. Hackers built the Internet.

To get hackers out from in front of their computer screens and to start networking I co-founded a technology group called 304Geeks. The purpose of 304Geeks is to give people interested in technology and computer security a way to network. Hackers are not always the most social of people. Since we started the group last year our gatherings have been rather small.

Most gatherings are six or less people. We would like to see that change. There has been some talk of building a hacker space, but we are going to need a lot more people to make that happen.

There are a couple of events this year of interest to hackers. First there is the First Annual AIDE Conference at Marshall University. AIDE is short for the Appalachian Institute of Digital Evidence. The First Annual AIDE Conference is July 27, 28, and 29 at the Marshall University Forensic Science Center. 304Geeks co-founder Rob Dixon and I will be speaking on the first day of the conference.

Rob is also working on putting together a mini-con and capture the flag event in October, and we have a verbal commitment from a computer security a-lister who has spoken at a number of hacker conferences, including DefCon, Notacon, PhreakNIC, and ShmooCon, to come speak and help with capture the flag. I will post more information once we confirm the details.

Rob is also a board member of Hackers For Charity, an organization started by security expert and hacker Johnny Long to match the hacker community with technology skills for people in need. We would like to see 304Geeks get more involved in Hackers For Charity. Rob and I attended a Metasploit class in Louisville in May. The proceeds of that event went to Hackers for Charity. Rob also spent time working the Hackers for Charity booth at DefCon. We are interested in trying One Laptop Per West Virginia Child under the HFC banner.

You can learn more about 304Geeks by visiting us at, the 304Geeks Google Group, or by following me on Twitter at or by following Rob on Twitter at

As for the term "hacker", we're taking it back.

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