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Geeks and Gaming

Hacking RPG debuts at Black Hat conference

July 27, 2012 7:24pm
A role-playing game on hacking has debuted at the ongoing Black Hat hackers' conference in Las Vegas —but it's not the high-tech video game many might imagine.
The game, dubbed "Control-Alt-Hack," is a card game drawn up by computer security professionals to teach high school and college students about "white hat" hacking.
"Your job is centered around Missions - tasks that require you to apply your hacker skills (and a bit of luck) in order to succeed. Use your Social Engineering and Network Ninja skills to break the Pacific Northwest's power grid, or apply a bit of Hardware Hacking and Software Wizardry to convert your robotic vacuum cleaner into an interactive pet two jobs are the same. So pick up the dice, and get hacking!" read the description of the game on its official website (
The game is designed to "give a glimpse into white hat hacking, and highlight some of the more surprising aspects of computer security."
It is for three to six players aged 14 and up, and may take an hour to play.
Designers of the game include security experts Tamara Denning, Tadayoshi Kohno, and Adam Shostack.
Denning and Kohno are members of the Washington Computer Security and Privacy Research Lab, while Shostack is an honorary member.
Included in the box are three dice, 156 game cards including 16 hacker cards and 56 mission cards, and 58 hacker cred tokens and 42 money tokens.
Humorous treatment
A separate article on tech site CNET said the game was presented at Black Hat 2012 confab in Las Vegas.
"Humor creates an open atmosphere" that helps break down the shyness of learning, Shostack said.
He said the game involves humor and some complexity to help keep the subject matter interesting for the target audience - teens and young adults.
CNET said players can take the role of one of eight men or eight women who have interests ranging from martial arts to rock climbing.
The report added Steve Jackson Games, which is behind the game, has a history with computer security when an incident in 1990 nearly destroyed the company.
CNET said the game is still in production and may go on sale starting fall.
Real-world accuracy
CNET said the game tries to promote the accessibility of computer science and computer security, and drive home the point that there's more to computer security than antivirus and the Web.
It also seeks to depict diverse attack techniques and attacker goals. — TJD, GMA News

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