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I’m not saying all of my trips go horribly wrong, but exploding toilets1984 style televisionsbadges that make no sensesurprises in alleyways and emergency fuel dumps could perhaps convince you otherwise. You’ll be pleased to know Rootcon 5 went off without a hitch (well, besides the earthquake drill, the eleven hours at Guangzhou airport and the lady with the foot in her face) and a great time was had by all.
Step up, Cebu Parklane International Hotel. Before:


After (well, during):

I think something in the region of 200(ish) people turned up to listen to talks on a wide variety of subjects. Ye Olde Cyberterror kept popping up throughout the event, as it’s clearly a bit of a hot topic although there were plenty of other things to get your teeth into if you never wanted to hear the word “cyber” attached to anything ever again.

For the duration of the event, there were fairly spectacular gaming rigs available for people to hop on:

Batman, everybody.

Those are some big fans

When the PC above is turned on it seems to glow brighter than the Sun:

White heat

Of course, this being a hacker con there were various wargames / capture the flag type events taking place too. While it’s entirely possible I captured someone below simply wiping their face, I like to imagine the pwnage before her is so amazing that she is straight up shrieking into a napkin.

Pwn him! Pwn him good!

Skills to pay the bills

Probably not though.

Anyway, there was also an obligatory tshirt booth and everybody had a badge complete with a QC code or two to crack.

Shirts galore


So there we go. As for the talks, they came thick and fast over the two day event. No prizes for guessing that I talked about videogame / PC game hacking and threats, but in addition to that there was a great ZEUS talk by Trend Micro:

Zeus toolkit

Another presentation given by a chap well known for being involved in the legal side of things discussed the topic of whether the Philippines was ready for “cyber terrorism”. I must admit, I was curious when I heard that “Cyberterrorism” was a “convergence of cybernetics and terrorism“. I always thought that was something to do with scary robots, but feel free to plough through this lot and make sense of it for me.

There was also a fairly exciting kerfuffle between him and researchers from a company who gave a talk prior to this then found themselves referenced incorrectly in his own. I missed most of it, but below is some of the drama captured for posterity:


Yeah, that was pretty awesome.

Something else that was awesome was the TDL 4 talk by my colleague Berman Enconado, which explored the history of TDL 4, what it does and the damage it can cause.


Now it’s time to break for cakes because, well, look at them.

Earth to Elvis

Hacker cons tend to have some sort of lockpicking shenanigans taking place in the form of a village, but Rootcon had a one man lockpick village in the form of Jolly Mongrel who went through the various types of lock you could pick, examined a famous bank heist from yesteryear that involved lockpicking galore and also had some fun with handcuffs:

Handcuff fun

I love Batman. Almost.

I also thought his tshirt said “I love Batman”, which would have been amazing.

Fishbowl of doom

A quick prize draw at the GFI booth later (with a handily swiped fishbowl which I’m sure the fish didn’t miss) and it was time for the panel talk including speakers from IBM, Trend Micro, GFI Software, that legal guy and a chap called Sven Herpig who is as awesome as his name suggests. It was about – you’ve guessed it – cyberterror, along with a bunch of random security questions including ethical vulnerability reporting, Wikileaks and, er, setting up an overseas anonymous security company that quickly wandered into a discussion about tax evasion.

Cyberterror panel

Also someone said something pretty funny here, but I have no idea what it was.

Someone brought the lulz

All in all, this was an excellent event – especially as this was the first “official” security conference in the Philippines (despite there being four Rootcons prior to this, which were much smaller in scale). This had numerous speakers (both local and international), talks on a wide range of subjects, PC gaming, hacking events and booths stuffed with products and freebies.

Plans are already underway for Rootcon 6, so it would probably be wise to pencil in a visit to Cebu sometime next year. Thanks to everyone who organised the event and thanks also to everyone who visited the booth / listened to the talks, we had a great time!

Christopher Boyd