Lucy Teitler went to the world’s preeminent hackers conference and tried her best not to get hacked:
Before I arrived at the Rio Hotel for Defcon, the giant Las Vegas hacker convention that tends to draw digital mischief-makers by the thousands, I received some simple but startling advice: Do not, under any circumstances, use the free conference wifi. Don’t access anything on your phone that has a password that you don’t want other people to find out. And, to be extra safe, bring a burner laptop.
Since I am not Batman, I do not have a burner laptop. My only laptop, a Macbook from 2007, should probably be someone’s burner by now, but it’s not.
So I do what I can: I turn off the wifi on my computer before I arrive at the hotel. I change the settings on my phone so that wifi, Bluetooth and cellular data are all turned off. That eliminates the temptation to check any of my password-protected apps, since I can’t access the Internet anymore. My phone isn’t a smart phone anymore. I know it’s just psychological, but it actually feels lighter in my hand, like a corpse that’s lost the apocryphal 21 grams of the human soul. It’s not a honing device anymore. It doesn’t know me now. It’s just a piece of metal. The only internet I access (for reading up on the Russian Billion-Password Hack, for instance, or how not to get hacked at Defcon) is the plug-in Ethernet from the secure press room. So I’m okay. I think.