At Black Hat learn to: kill diabetics, destroy Sony, steal a car, work at NSA

Black Hat is usually wonky; this year it was packed with flash and more menace than usual

There are two big, annual tech conventions that demonstrate a major split among technology professionals who go to Las Vegas specifically for tech conferences, not the things everyone else goes to Las Vegas for (really big swimming pools and tacky architecture).

The first is the Consumer Electronics Show – a toyfest jam-packed with flashing lights, loud colors and the conscious pursuit of kitschy idiocy. It demands that you jump in and play – touching everything, talking to everyone, trying everything. Video racing, indoor skydiving, phones smarter than your laptop, laptops lighter than your phone, networking gear that creates network pipes so huge the demo requires that you get in and personally crawl at light speed to a router on the opposite side of the Las Vegas Convention Center (Which takes about five minutes 'less than half the time it takes the sun's energy to reach the Earth!")

[Can hacker assassins target insulin pumps? and Hacker unlocks cars via text message]

At night is more of the same, but the unavoidable forced-fun participation starts out in rock bars, bit, tacky shows and open-decked sky-scraping cocktail lounges that is just the start of the kind of bacchanalia that re-fills the supply of morning-after stories you wore out after college and prompt a lot of unscheduled "check-ups" at the family doctor when you get home.

Black Hat, the annual hacker's convention whose attendees are split about evenly among real or wannabe hackers, security professionals from major corporations, and various depths of undercover federal agents either hoping to arrest the first group or recruit and hire the second.

Black Hat is the quintessential look-but-don't touch conference.

Everything is fascinating, most of it is frightening and everyone is trying with varying levels of subtlety that they're more leet than you and you really don't belong there because your skillz aren't mad enough to hang with this crew. (Most of "this crew" doesn't belong to a crew; they just want you to think they do so they can have someone to bully for the weekend before having to go back to their basements and be bullied on the way to the convenience store for Monsters and Cheetos.

If you're just there to learn or observe, you hang around the back of the conference halls, wonder why the all-black clothes you're wearing still don't seem black enough, never take your laptop out of your suitcase or turn on the WiFi to keep pimply punks from moving into it to run up their Hack-your-Neighbor scores.

If you listen to enough of the presentations, when you go home you drill holes in your hard drive, recycle the rest of the laptop and burn all your clothes before entering the house just so you can be sure only to have brought back bedbugs and scorpions, not the identity-thieving kind of bug you spent a week ducking.

At CES, which takes place in January, you'll learn that your phone, your computers and your whole approach to technology are hopelessly obsolete and you're going to have to spend every dollar you'll ever make keeping updating all your silicon.

At Black Hat, which happened last week, you learn there's no point in buying new tech because the punks who were too busy at the conference to try to make you feel inadequate have already hacked every gadget you plan to buy, most of them before they even left the factory, and are just waiting for you to type the first character so they can extract your Social Security Number, ATM password and a DNA sample through your fingernails and a little-known data leak in the cerebellum accessible through a tiny access port to which they can link by having the laptop whose loyalty they've usurped jam a tiny metal probe up your nose and into your brain.

Other than the potential for automated, extralegal, unexpected metal probes to suck passwords wetly out your nose directly from your brain with little notice, what did we learn at this year's Black Hat?

At Black Hat this year we learned:

Next year it might go on an extra week or ten.

Read more of Kevin Fogarty's CoreIT blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Kevin on Twitter at @KevinFogarty. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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