DEF CON 9 'HackerFest' includes talk on eBook security
ElcomSoft staff scheduled to discuss, demonstrate weaknesses

11 July 2001

By Kurt Foss, Planet PDF Editor

As they have for the past eight years, a swarm of computer hackers and crackers from around the world will soon gather again at the annual DEF CON gathering, described as an "underground party" where attendees can share secrets, stories and most of all, their mutual love/disdain for computer security. The fun begins anew in Las Vegas unofficially on July 12, with the popular speaker presentations starting the next day -- appropriately enough, Friday the 13th.

The heart of the "largest hacking convention on the planet" (at least according to its promoters), the technical talks and demonstrations cover a wide range of topics -- some probably even legal. Perhaps as a reminder that even though they share the same bad habits, attendees are not necessarily surrounded by friends is this suggestion from convention organizers:

"Stuff to Bring: A large bag with a lock, so you can protect your stuff if people crash in your room."

The list of speakers and presentations scheduled for DEF CON9 includes at least one session of interest to eBook enthusiasts, especially devotees of Adobe's portable document format (PDF).

A presentation on "eBooks security -- theory and practice" is slated to share one group's exploration of the "security aspects of electronic books and documents," and reportedly will include a demonstration "of how weak they are."

This theme will sound familiar if you've been reading some of our recent Planet eBook reports about Adobe Systems updating its Acrobat eBook Reader in response to a security crack by a Russian software company.

The two presenters listed for the eBook security presentation are employees of ElcomSoft, the same Moscow-based company that Adobe alleges is in violation of Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

"There is one big problem that related with eBooks," their presentation preview notes. "Information in electronic form could be duplicated and transmitted, and there is no reliable way to take control over that processes. There are several solutions from different companies that were developed to prevent unauthorized distribution of the electronic documents."

In their talk, "the most attention will be paid to documents in PDF format," they say.


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