ORH_v2016.1 Wrap Up

It’s been two weeks since 1NTERRUPT ORH_v2016.1 and I’m still mentally digesting all that went on, but I can give you the highlights.


First, some big news: We announced the creation of our new San Francisco chapter with the first event to take place this September. The chapter will be led by Ben Munroe, who is my colleague and manager at Cisco. Ben has been an 1NTERRUPT champion from our first discussion, and he brings extensive event-planning experience. It should be a great time!


WOR_v2016 Audicence
Our largest turnout yet! Photo: (c) Joe Gonzalez-Dufresne

This was our highest-attended 1NTERRUPT yet with 54 Participants in attendance representing public, private, home-school, and college students from around central Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire. There were also quite a few changes and updates after last year’s event. This was also the first year we’d had truly international involvement with some of the code for the Treasure Hunt having been developed in Moscow by Alexander Kushnirenko, and I’m happy to say that our collaboration continues.

What’s new?

The panel (L-R): Stacy Lord, Alec Foege, John Conron and Paul Roberts. Photo: (c) Joe Gonzalez-Dufresne
  • The Participant age range was expanded to include middle school and college students. We’d been receiving requests to do so for some time now, so we did;
  • We also expanded our scope, while of course, keeping cyber security at the core. For instance, we added hardware, web and design breakouts in addition to our expanded security-focused breakouts;
  • This year’s speakers – John Conron of the Mass State Police, art educator and NASA SOFIA participant Stacy Lord, and author Alec Foege presented on their personal and professional passions for creativity, tinkering and technology for public safety. All three then participated in a panel moderated by journalist and Security Ledger founder and editor Paul Roberts;
  • Breakout sessions following two tracks (intro and advanced) led by subject matter experts were added to the day;
  • We also introduced concepts of industrial control system (ICS) network security and design;
  • The code developed for the Treasure Hunt has all been posted to GitHub and is freely available for use.
WOR_v2016.1 Hardware Hacking
Hardware hacking breakout: Build your own traffic lights. Photo: (c) Joe Gonzalez-Dufresne

Take Back Hack

Take Back Hack!
Designed by Michelle May of Festival Creative

Hacking is too often associated with bad behavior and criminals, and ignores the good work done by the majority of hackers. We want to take the word “hack” back for the good guys. Take Back Hack will be an ongoing program that focuses on the benefits of hacking and promotes that “What if…?” mentality of hacking that pushes innovation.


Technocopia’s robotic skeleton. Photo: (c) Joe Gonzalez-Dufresne

One of 1NTERRUPT’s pillars is community, and we invite members of our local community to come share what they do. This year we welcomed back Technocopia, who always bring very cool stuff (where else are you going to see a remote-controlled robot corpse in a coffin) and Chris Markman, who displayed large prints of his aerial photography and who brought some of his drones with him. We also welcomed the EcoTarium, who were recruiting for their volunteer program, and artists Victor Pacheco and Mark Stevens, both of whom create computer-based art in addition to working in “traditional” media.

Treasure Hunt

Mission: Get water filtration pumps running Photo: (c) Joe Gonzalez-Dufresne

The Treasure Hunt still remains the most popular part of the day, and this year’s scenario was that our team of incident responders had to take back control of critical ICS from a group of cyber criminals who’d infiltrated the control network. We did have one unscripted, real-life hiccup that I’ll detail in a subsequent post, but the spoiler is that the issue had to do with an easily-guessed password.

WOR_v2016.1 Traffic Lights
Mission: Regain control of the traffic light system Photo: (c) Joe Gonzalez-Dufresne

Stay up to date

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Thanks to all of you who’ve participated and supported our efforts! And a special thank you to Cisco Systems, whose generous sponsorship has kept us going these past couple years and will do so into the future, and to Worcester Academy, where we don’t just have a space, but where we have a home

About Marc Blackmer

Marc is the founder of 1NTERRUPT and has been in the IT and cybersecurity fields since 1998. He is a product marketing manager for industry solutions in Cisco Systems' Security Business Group, focusing on cybersecurity for industrial control systems (ICS) and the Internet of Things (IoT). He also blogs on IoT security on behalf of Cisco at www.securityledger.com.