Guide to Attending DEF CON 32 in 2024 logo

DEF CON is a must-attend conference for cybersecurity professionals. Like cybersecurity, DEF CON is big and confusing at first. There is so much to do and see; it can be overwhelming. There is also still a bit of that old hacker mentality that you should only be here if you are smart enough to figure it out. So, I wanted to put together a DEF CON 32 guide for those who plan to attend for the first time.

DEF CON 32 is from August 8th through to the 11th. If you have not yet booked a room and flight, jump on that!

The tips and resources I provide within this post are based on details collected during my multiple DEF CON trips. Some things have changed, but most things for DEF CON 32 will be the same.

Do Your Homework Before DEF CON 32

DEF CON has a lot of activities, speeches, CTFs, workshops, and more. There are so many things that you can easily be lost in what is happening. To maximize your DEF CON 32 experience, write out a plan of what you want to see.

DEF CON 32 Villages

Something I didn’t fully understand at my first DEF CON was that the villages were mostly independent of DEF CON itself. So, each DEF CON Village has its own talk schedules, CTFs, workshops, and classes. If you are interested in a particular village, check out that village’s website for full details of what is happening.

If you are unsure what villages there are, start in the DEF CON Villages forums for a list and details about each village.

Bug Bounty Village logo

New DEF CON 32 Village

This year, Bug Bounty Village is a new addition to the DEF CON villages. I am personally very excited about it. Bug Bounty programs allow Hackers to get paid for their work without proving prior experience; you can just jump in. There are not many other places in cybersecurity where this is possible.

It is great to see this side of the industry maturing.

DEF CON Official Calendar

Check the DEF CON official calendar to find events at the conference.

Day 1 of DEF CON is just LineCon… Except…

The first day of the conference used to be just LineCon, but since DEF CON 31, we now have War Stories.

LineCon Gif

War Stories are talks, presentations, and live demos from Hackers doing fun and grey-hat things. Only a few are recorded, and most are off the record. At a DEF CON 31 off-the-record War Story, I watched an anonymous hacker demonstrate an exploit in Torrent seeding servers. Yes, live on stage, he started breaching live torrent Linux servers randomly worldwide. This type of thing is why DEF CON is so awesome. At DEF CON 31, War Stories started on Day 1 at 2 PM. These were a big hit, so I expect it will be the same at DEF CON 32.

DEF CON 31 Swag and Badge

So, if you want to finish LineCon by 2 PM, follow my advice! This method at DEF CON 31 got me my badge and all my swag in hand by 7:43 AM! I know the exact time because the image to the right was taken minutes after I left the swag booth, and it has the metadata timestamp to prove it. That is crazy! I have been in lines until 3 or 4 PM in other years.

Here is what you should do on the first day of the conference.

  1. Buy your DEF CON 32 ticket online NOW. It costs $20 more than buying it at the door, but it will save you time. There are two lines at DEF CON registration: pre-paid and cash. Pre-paid lines are always very short.
  2. August 8th at 5 AM(meaning get up at 4 AM): Line up to get your DEF CON badge. Go early because they can and have run out of badges. You are really going to want one of the badges.
  3. With a DEF CON 32 badge in hand, speedwalk to the merch line. Again, some merch will run out on the first day, and you will not want to miss out.
DEF CON 31 LineCon

If you choose not to follow my advice and end up in an extended LineCon on the first day, make the most out of it. Make new friends in LineCon, and plan to meet up at DEF CON 32 parties when the sun goes down. Seriously, even introverts like myself can find a way to make new friends in LineCon. I mean, they’re trapped in line with you for like 3-hours, so you have time to think of a way to start a conversation.

Notes on DEF CON Badges


DEF CON badges are famous for their designs. Most people only know about the circuit board badges and don’t know that not every year has a circuit board badge. DEF CON alternates between a circuit board and a non-circuit board badge every other year. At DEF CON 31, many first-time attendees did not know this and were very disappointed.

Don’t fret! DEF CON 32 is a circuit board year!

DEF CON 31 Badge life

Plan Ahead For Village Badges

If you want to get some of the other sweet DEF CON badges from villages, you must buy them in advance. Nearly all the major villages will have their cool badge, but you must seek them out weeks or even months in advance. These, too, sell out quickly, long before the convention even starts.

A little pro tip: The Red Team Village in 2023 only allowed those who registered for workshops hosted there to come in. If you buy a Red Team badge, you are allowed to go straight in to pick it up. After you pick up the badge, maybe you hang around, pretend you are supposed to be there and listen to some workshops. I am not saying that is what I did; I would never do this.

DEF CON 32 Workshops – Day 1 Planning Exception!

DefCon 32 Workshops

The big day one DEF CON 32 planning exception is workshops. Workshops are held on day one and run for 4 hours each. DEF CON workshops typically cost $25 USD but have very limited seats, with an average of 50 per workshop. So, you need to sign up for these workshops as soon as they are announced. Otherwise, you will miss out.

These workshops are a HUGE value! Have you ever looked into taking a SANS course? One SANS class will cost you $5k to start. However, DEF CON workshops are basically free. Get this: some of the DEF CON workshops I have been in were run by off-duty SANS instructors who teach the same material(a fraction; you can only cram so much in 8 hours) from the SANS course!

Workshops for DEF CON 32 are announced on the DEF CON forums. Workshops will be announced on June 15th, and registration opens on July 7th at noon(PDT)!

Update 6/19/24: Workshops have still not been posted. They should be posted any day now.

DEF CON WORKSHOPS are registered through Eventbrite, so make sure you have your account set up before registration opens. Links to Eventbrite will be posted on the forums when the workshops are posted.

Pro Tip: If you can’t get into a workshop you really want to attend, go and line up for it anyway. There is a good chance someone else will not attend, and the workshop organizer will let you take the no-show spot.

Bring Cash to DEF CON 32!


Cash is king, and most vendors only accept cold, hard cash. That goes for merch, too, although some will take credit cards. However, it is a gamble of who will and will not accept CCs, so just to be safe, don’t plan on using a CC.

Bring those green-backs if you plan to get dripped in dope DEF CON merch!

DEF CON 32 Location Change

DEF CON convention

DEF CON 32 HAS MOVED. In past years, DEF CON was held in the Ceasers Forums; this is no longer true.

DEF CON 32 will be held in the Las Vagas Convention Center(LVCC), specifically in the LVCC West Hall.

I think moving to LVCC could be really good for DEF CON. Ceaser Forums were beginning to get too crowded, plus they could not hold everything in one place; it was spread out between three hotels.

This is the address for DEF CON 32: 300 Convention Center Dr, Las Vegas, NV 89109

Side Note: The hotel room prices at the hotels DEF CON set up reservations with are crazy expensive. So, I found a cheap room across the street from the LVCC West Hall at the Circus Circus Hotel. It’s only a 10/15 minute walk.

Bring Snacks to DEF CON 32

DEF CON’s location change should improve the food situation. The LVCC has a food court, and Caesars Forum is a food desert. So, the LVCC should be an improvement. However, waiting in line to get food can take a long time, enough time for you to miss a talk. Also, I am guessing food prices are going to be crazy high.

For all these reasons, I recommend you bring snacks and food. To best optimize your time, I would plan on having a big breakfast, having snacks throughout the day, and eating dinner sometime after 6 PM.

Protect Yourself! Have a BlueTeam State of Mind

Not everyone at DEF CON is a WhiteHat Hacker; personally, I think they’re mostly GreyHats. So you should take some steps to protect yourself. Here are a few things you can do to stay protected.

The wall of sheep at DefCon
  • Have a full tunnel VPN configured on your phone and laptop. This will ensure that your traffic will be encrypted even when using sketchy Wifi. You don’t want to show up on the wall of sheep!
  • Make a complete backup of all your devices. This is just good general advice before going on a vacation.
  • Enable Bitlocker or full disk encryption on all your devices. This will ensure that your data is not at risk in case your devices are stolen or lost.
  • Store all RFID and NFC cards, like credit cards, passports, and especially hotel room keys, in a Faraday bag. Faraday bags are cheap on Amazon.

If you want more tips on securing your data and personal belongings at DEF CON, check out my “The Traveling IT Worker” blog post.

Karma meme

Here’s a fun story: At DEF CON 30, my mother-in-law’s hotel room was broken into. Nothing was taken, but an item and a note with the date were left behind. I have a feeling she said something rude to the wrong people and became the target of some unsanctioned CTF shenanigans. Someone likely used a FlipperZero to clone her hotel room key.

LOL, this is why I love you fucking degenerates. <3

CTFs and Challenges: Plan in Advance

CTF meme

There are sooo many CTFs you can participate in. However, if you think you will just find one and start hacking away at it; think again. Don’t misunderstand me; you can do that, but you likely will not get that far. Most CFTs require special software, tools, and niche expertise. This means you must plan for the CTFs you want to do in advance.

This brings me to my next point. If you have not planned to do a CTF or workshop in advance, then you don’t need to bring your laptop to the convention center. You can keep your laptop in your room and not lug around a bunch of dead weight on your back. Trust me, a heavy backpack will kill your shoulders by the end of the day.

If you want to put your skills to the test, check out the DEF CON 32 Contests forum page.

Finding DEF CON 32 Parties

Many awesome parties are happening at DEF CON. However, finding them can be tricky. Here are a few places to find DEF CON 32 parties.

Hacker Track App Logo

Get the Hacker Tracker App

Hacker Tracker is the official DEF CON app for planning all things DEF CON. You need to have this app to keep track of all the talks, events, workshops, contests, etc… Make sure you download the app before DEF CON 32.

Android: Hacker Tracker – Schedule App

Apple IOS: HackerTracker

Final Tips for DEF CON 32 footer

Final Tips for DEF CON 32

To wrap up this DEF CON 32 guide, I want to add some final words of advice.

If you are having a good time, stay there.

DEF CON is big, spread out, and farther apart than you think. So don’t think you can see everything at the conference. Don’t feel like you need to leave an event or a talk you enjoy to try and see something else. If you are having a good time where you are, stay there. If you leave and come back, you may not be able to get back in.

Stuck on a project? Bring it to DEF CON.

I had been stuck on a hardware hacking project for months. So, I brought the devices with me to DEF CON and asked around. By the end of day two, I had root access to the device. We are stronger in numbers.

Avoid Workshop Overload

Since I am pretty good at getting into DEF CON workshops, I filled one year’s DEF CON with one to two workshops every day. It sounded great at the time, but I regretted it by the end of the conference. Every day of DEF CON felt like taking a 500-level college class, and it burned me out quickly. This also left little time for me to see good talks. While I definitely increased my skills exponentially that year, I didn’t really have fun.

Any “must know” tips I missed? Let me know in the comments below!