Prepare your family, because it’s about that time again — time for and the SEVillage at DEF CON to start accepting registrants for the SECTF4Kids competition, to be held this year Saturday, August 8th at DEF CON 23! Last year’s competition kept the kids and their parents busy almost the whole day. We can’t tell you how rewarding it was to have the kids work so diligently to finish all the activities and puzzles. Even though a winning team had already finished, other teams were having so much fun that they pushed on in order to complete the competition. It made the hours and hours (and hours!) we put into designing the thing worth it!

To help decide if the SECTF4Kids is right for the kids (and, let’s face it, the parents, too), we have provided a set of guidelines that outline the proficiency levels recommended for maximum amusement and pleasure for all. The guidelines and the link for registration are available below.

Hope to see you there!

Guidelines for Maximum Fun for All wants every child (ages 5-12) to have a chance at participating and winning the SECTF4Kids competition. Keep in mind, though, that there are certain skills that really must be mastered for both you and your child to enjoy participating. We have observed over the years that both parents and children enjoy the competition less the more the parent has to do for the child. To that end, these guidelines were created to help you, the parent, decide if your child has the skills necessary to compete and for you both to have fun while doing it.

The SECTF4Kids competition will include:

  1. Reading directions/instructions at various points of the game at third to fifth grade reading levels.
  2. Solving ciphers geared for third to fifth grade spelling levels.
  3. Thinking critically about problem solving without the assistance of others.
  4. Completing tasks or puzzles requiring logic, memory, or critical thinking skills.
  5. Following quick verbal instructions requiring listening skills and being able to take notes.
  6. Communicating verbally with other DEF CON attendees, a.k.a. strangers (with appropriate parental supervision!).
  7. Accessing a smartphone during the competition (they can borrow yours, no worries!).

To get your child ready for the critical thinking necessary to solve some of the riddles and practice problem solving skills, a simple google search for “critical thinking exercises for elementary students” will turn up plenty of examples you can use to prepare.

We also suggest the kids be able to read and comprehend any written directions by themselves to participate. Our goal is to challenge the kids but to make it fun. We hope these guidelines help with both of those aspects.

Rules for Participation

Before you register your child, please make sure you can follow all  the rules below:

  • The contestant must be between the ages of 5 and-12.
  • The parent or guardian must approve and complete the registration form.
  • The parent or guardian must be present at the first meeting on Friday night.
  • The parent or guardian agrees to be responsible for the contestant’s supervision (participants are not the responsibility of DEF CON or Social-Engineer.Org).
  • The contestant must be present at DEF CON from Friday night through Sunday afternoon to be eligible to compete.
  • Contestants may be placed on a team with someone they don’t know.
  • No cheating! Anyone accepting unauthorized help (including that of parents/guardians) or sabotaging other teams will be disqualified.


The underlying idea of this contest: No one gets victimized for the duration of this contest. Social engineering skills can be demonstrated without engaging in unethical activities. The contest focuses on the skills of the contestant, not who does the most damage. Our goal is to raise awareness to the threat that social engineering poses and educate kids in skills that can be very useful in life.

Items that are NOT allowed to be targeted at any point of the contest:

  • Nothing that can get, DEF CON, or the participants in the contest sued
  • Any techniques that would make a target feel as if they are “at risk” in any manner

Use common sense. If something seems unethical, don’t do it. If you have questions, ask a judge.

If at any point in the contest it appears that contestants are targeting anything on the “DO NOT” list, they will receive one warning. After the one warning, any infractions of the “DO NOT” list will result in disqualification from the contest.


If you can comply with all the above and think your junior social engineer has the skills to win, then register below. This form must be completed by the parent or guardian. Completing this form does not guarantee participation.

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