Las Vegas braces for computer security gurus

Las Vegas (NV) - Thousands of computer security gurus and hackers are returning to Las Vegas this week for the Blackhat and Defcon conventions. Defcon's new home hotel, the Riviera, is bracing for computer problems and appears to have taken some pre-emptive action.

A quick look at a casino Internet kiosk area shows disabled computers and missing ATM/Credit Card readers.

Next to the Riviera convention center is a small Internet kiosk area called "Internet Corner". It consists of about half a dozen small kiosks equipped with screens and ATM/Credit Card swipers. Usually, hotel guests would pay a few dollars an hour to surf the net, but the Riviera has disabled all the machines - supposedly as a protective measure against hackers.

Several of the computers had missing screens and ATM/credit card readers. Signs, some printed and some hastily written, were placed on the kiosks saying "Credit Card Reader Not Working" and "This Computer is Broken".

The 2-day Blackhat convention, a more refined and upscale version of Defcon, starts at the Caesar's Palace Hotel today. Defcon runs for three days and starts on Friday.

Blackhat 2006 has significantly expanded over the 2005 event. The gathering now offers well more than 100 classes and briefings, mainly covering the topics database security, voice services security, hardware security, web security, rootkits, RFID security, Windows Vista security, forensics and zero day attacks.

Check back for our upcoming coverage of the Blackhat 2006 conference.