Who's Who in Australian IT security - Hackers and hobbyists

Do hackers still emerge from behind their multiple monitors and talk to each other in the undignified medium of 'meatspace'? Patrick Gray offers some insights.

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The so-called "hacker scene" in Australia is alive and well. However, the Australian chapter of 2600 -- the global interest group for all things hackish -- is essentially dead. The primary manifestation of hacker magazine and community 2600 in Australia was a once lively, high volume mailing list for all types of security enthusiasts. Sadly, it's descended into farce, with the technical quality of the posts plummeting to a previously unthinkable low; many posts these days look more like requests for technical support than cutting edge commentary on security and technology.

The public "scene" has fractured into several semi-public groups. Still, once a year there's a shindig -- the Ruxcon security conference. Students, security professionals and hobbyists descend on Sydney's UTS campus to engage in chilli eating competitions, hackathons and to attend presentations, which are of a high standard by any objective measure.

In Sydney, what were the monthly 2600 meetings are now attended primarily by Ruxcon organisers at The Crystal Palace, a pub near Central Station. The venue is hardly swanky, but anyone interested in meeting some security geeks of all walks should head to The Crystal Palace on the first Friday of every month for a beer and a chat. Strangers are apparently welcome. But be warned -- this is not a get together for teetotallers.

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