Find the BHV booth in the Contest Area
August 7th to 9th, 2015
Las Vegas, Nevada
See for general conference information.

Speaker Schedule

Presentations will be located in the Village Talks Track (Bally's Bronze 4)


10:00-10:15 : Parallels in BioSec and InfoSec

Speaker: Walter Powell aka Mr_Br!ml3y
Biosecurity and information security share a common vocabulary and threat environment due to the shared infection paradigm. Since both biosecurity and information security exist in an environment with pervasive and continuously evolving threats, both fields utilize similar methods to reduce risk: controlled access to facilities (isolation), maintenance of 'safe' environment (sanitation), user training (education), and ongoing checks for hazards (monitoring). The main differences between the two are ease of attack (virtual vs. physical) and costs/penalties for failure.

10:25-10:50 : Social Implications of DNA Acquisition & Storage

Speaker: Michael Goetzman @Goetzman
The advent of rapid 'Next-Generation' DNA sequencing methods has greatly accelerated biological and medical discovery steering society into a paradigm shift, the genomic era, of personalized medicine. This trend promises an affordable insight into your personal genome potentially giving individual’s personal advantages. What information is hidden within a strand of DNA and what are implications of accessing this data? Will these rapid advancements enhance humanity without sacrificing ethics and personal exposure? Can society overcome challenges stemming from emerging technologies such as massive internet accessible databases and cloud storage?

15:00-15:20 : Physiology from the Perspective of Control: A Bio-hacker's Guide

David Whitlock david.r.whitlock
Jasmina Aganovic @JasminaAganovic
A Hacker needs intimate and thorough understanding of the internal workings of a system to successfully and elegantly manipulate that system; along with the chutzpah to do so. ;)

Living tissue is active matter; it dissipates free energy while maintaining itself in a viable state. This requires a Control system that reduces the degrees of freedom of the system to only those desired.

All disorders are disorders of control. Either Control allowed physiology to get into a bad state, or Control did not get physiology out of a bad state.
Bio-hacking requires understanding physiology from the perspective of Control.

Good design heuristics make modular systems with designed interfaces. Evolution didn't do that. Modern living environments are very different than environments our ancestors evolved in. Not surprising a number of disorders that are common in the urban developed world are rare to unknown in the rural undeveloped world; things like diabetes, obesity, allergies, inflammatory disorders. This observation has lead to the “hygiene hypothesis”; the idea that there is a “factor” associated with “dirt” or lack of “hygiene” that is protective. This presents the hypothesis that the loss of ammonia oxidizing bacteria through modern bathing practices adversely affects the background nitric oxide level and so perturbs all NO-mediated control pathways, with no threshold.

The importance of the background level of nitric oxide will be discussed in the context of a component of the human microbiome; ammonia oxidizing bacteria living on the skin and converting ammonia in sweat into nitrite and nitric oxide so as to set the background NO/NOx level to avoid nitropenia.

15:30-15:50 : Examining the Robustness of the Brain Against a Malicious Adversary

Speaker: Avani Wildani
Neural networks in the brain are sparsely connected, composed of components with an over 50% failure rate, and still amazingly consistent in their high-level behavior over time. We are building models of biologically plausible neural networks to help explain how the brain can protect against a malicious adversary while keeping networks tiny, low power, and easily trained. Using parameters taken from the somatosensory cortex, we have built a simulator to show the relationships between connectivity and severity of possible attacks. Some prior knowledge of distributed system design is helpful, and we'll teach you all of the neuroscience you need to know.


14:00-14:25 : Biohacking: The Anatomy of DIY Implantable Devices

Christian "quaddi" Dameff MD @CDameffMD
Jeff "r3plicant" Tully MD @JeffTullyMD
Peter Hefley @PeterHefley
We live in a world shaped by the hacker ethos. Systems underlying the backbone of our daily lives - from government to finance to entertainment - have grown and evolved based in part on the ingenuity and input of people like you. What happens when we take that drive to understand, tinker, and (most of all) improve, and turn it towards the most complex system on Earth? Welcome to the world of biohacking.

Join two doctors/hackers and an infosec security pro as they take a deep dive into the realm of implantable mods, from the smallest DIY project to the cutting-edge in academic and industrial prototypes. This talk will also outline principles of successful human modification as well as highlight the need for caution at a time when innovation and imagination is pursued at the expense of security. But above all else, this talk is a celebration of the pioneering spirit of grinder culture and a call for hackers to continue to shape the future of what may be the most important movement in human history.

14:30-14:55 : Cloning Access Cards to Implants

Speaker: Alex Smith @CyberiseMe
Ever cloned an office access card but been afraid you'd be caught and searched? In this talk I'll show you how to clone RFID cards to subdermal implants to avoid detection.

This talk will cover the basics of RFID security, card cloning and RFID implants. It will focus on the AT5577 chip in the new implantable form factor and show how to use it to access RFID controlled security systems.

19:00-19:50 : Brain Waves Surfing - (In)security in EEG (Electroencephalography) Technologies

Speaker: Alejandro Hernández @nitr0usmx
Electroencephalography (EEG) is a non-invasive method for the recording and the study of electrical activity of the brain taken from the scalp. The source of these brain signals is mostly the synaptic activity between brain cells (neurons). EEG activity is represented by different waveforms per second (frequencies) that can be used to diagnose or monitor different health conditions such as epilepsy, sleeping disorders, seizures, Alzheimer disease, among other clinical uses. On the other hand, brain signals are used for many other research and entertainment purposes, such as neurofeedback, arts and neurogaming.

A brief introduction of BCIs (Brain-Computer Interfaces) and EEG will be given in order to understand the risks involved in our brain signals processing, storage and transmission.

Live demos include the visualization of live brain activity, the sniffing of brain signals over TCP/IP as well as flaws in well-known EEG applications when dealing with some corrupted samples of the most widely used EEG file formats (e.g. EDF). This talk is a first approach to demonstrate that many EEG technologies are prone to common network and application attacks.

Finally, best practices and regulatory compliance on digital EEG will be discussed.


14:00-14:25 : Biohacking at home: Pragmatic DNA design, assembly, and transformation

Speaker: Keoni Gandall
It is predicted that the ability to read/write DNA cheaply at scale will revolutionize biology, but what happens after the DNA has been printed? I will explain the basics of genetic engineering at home and how it can be useful now and in the future. This talk will cover building a basic lab, DNA design and assembly, transformation of actual living organisms, and the relevant safety and security concerns. If time permits, I will talk about open source projects and engineering principles as applied to genetics. I will also briefly explain how this applies to human genome editing, even though I have been referring to the genetic engineering of microbes. This talk should provide you with a better understanding of genetic engineering and how to get started at home or a local hackerspace.

14:30-14:55 : Genetic engineering - Genetically modifying organisms for fun and profit

Speaker: Johan Sosa @johansosa
Find out how genetically modified organisms are created. This talk for will focus introducing the basics of DIY genetic engineering for the uninitiated. With the knowledge provided in this talk, you can get started on the path to doing citizen science and maybe even making the next great scientific breakthrough (with a lot dedication, discipline, and focus). Learn how a protein that's part a bacterial immune system can be used to edit an organism genes. Find out how a the equivalent of Denial of Service attacks are used to smuggle DNA into yeast cells. Get info on what equipment is needed to get started in the emerging field of synthetic biology.

Speaker Bios

Walter Powell aka Mr_Br!ml3y

Mr_Br!ml3y grew up farming and liked it so much he went into information technology at the first opportunity. He has 5 years full-time infosec experience and strong side interests in biology and chemistry. He is currently trying to social engineer some department into paying for his PhD.

Michael Goetzman

Twitter: @Goetzman
Michael Goetzman is an Information Security Specialist for a midwestern nonprofit collection of 18 hospitals employing over 22,000 associates. His responsibilities include the confidentially of electronic medical records and general protection of sensitive data. Michael holds a masters of science in management involving international studies in Havana, Cuba studying healthcare related technologies and earned his CISSP. On his free time, Michael enjoys exotic rides in zeppelins, soaring in experimental planes, and piloting colorful hot air balloons. Michael believes in freedom of non-harmful information, equality before the law, the advancement of scientific research, and the individual imperative.

David Whitlock

Facebook: david.r.whitlock
Company Website:
David Whitlock is Chief Scientist/co-founder of AOBiome and discovered that AOB are commensal organisms for many eukaryotes. He received his MS and BS in Chemical Engineering from MIT.

Jasmina Aganovic

Twitter: @JasminaAganovic
Company Website:
Jasmina is a consumer goods entrepreneur who received her degree in chemical and biological engineering from MIT. Her unconventional path combined her technical background with roles at personal care brands.

Avani Wildani

Dr. Avani Wildani (neuron) is a postdoctoral fellow at the Salk Institute, where she is applying her background in distributed systems to exploring the security profile of computational neurobiology. Her Ph.D. work included finding correlated disk activity by analyzing block I/O traces collected through tapping the SATA bus. She believes that the best way of understanding how a system is designed is to understand the attacks it can and cannot defend against. She is usually found with Toool, tinkering with something small and sharp.

Christian "quaddi" Dameff MD

Twitter: @CDameffMD
Christian (quaddi) Dameff is an emergency medicine physician, former open capture the flag champion, prior Defcon speaker, and researcher. Published works include topics such as therapeutic hypothermia after cardiac arrest, novel drug targets for myocardial infarction patients, and other Emergency Medicine related works with an emphasis on CPR optimization. His most recent focus is on biohacking, medical device security, and critical medical infrastructure cyber security. He can’t spell words well. This is his tenth Defcon.

Jeff "r3plicant" Tully MD

Twitter: @JeffTullyMD
Jeff Tully is a pediatric physician and researcher with an interest in understanding the ever-growing intersections between health care and technology. Prior to medical school he worked on “hacking” the genetic code of Salmonella bacteria to create anti-cancer tools but now spends a majority of his time dreaming of a world where human beings will be able to upload their consciousness into utterly immersive simulations of the Star Wars universe.

Peter Hefley

Twitter: @PeterHefley
Peter Hefley has no medical device implants because he is squeamish about blood and cutting oneself open. With experience in information security consulting and penetration testing, he'd like to help lay the groundwork for body modifications and biohacking in a way that prevents folks' brains from getting pwned.

Alex Smith

Twitter: @CyberiseMe
Implant Store:
Alex is a DIY cyborg, aka grinder. He designs, builds and implants cybernetic devices.

Alejandro Hernández

Twitter: @nitr0usmx
Consultant with passion for different topics in security such as penetration testing, OSINT and fuzzing. Currently working for the security firm IOActive, where he had had the chance to work for a variety of Fortune 500 companies in different countries such as Mexico, USA, UK, South Korea, Netherlands and South Africa.

Co-author of DotDotPwn, a Directory Traversal fuzzer presented at BlackHat USA Arsenal 2011 and Melkor, an ELF file format fuzzer presented in Arsenal in 2014.

He enjoys cyberpunk movies, with dystopian scenarios, Hi-Tech and social decadence.

Keoni Gandall

Keoni Gandall is currently a student at Edison High School as well as an active member of the DIYbio community. Over the past two years, he has worked in the liulab at UCI with in vivo directed evolution systems, at LA Biohackers as a main contributor to their iGEM project, and at home doing independent research & development. In 2013, he won first place at the Broadcom Masters national science fair for creating an Archaea plasmid using his home lab. This is his second year at DefCon and he is still here to learn, but he is even more excited to share the basics of genetic engineering with the larger hacker community. Keoni is dedicated to the practical development of new biological technologies in the 21st century.

Johan Sosa

Twitter: @johansosa
Johan's day job is IT security, but at night he's immersed in science. He has been involved with DIY Biology projects for about two years. With help from many, he leads the lab work for the Real Vegan Cheese project. The Real Vegan Cheese project, which won a Gold medal at the 2014 iGEM competition, aims to produce milk proteins via yeast and thus enable a source of cheese that doesn't require animals.


It was only a matter of time: we are excited to announce the injection of the BioHacking Village (BHV) at DEF CON! Biological systems are still systems, and systems can be hacked. Thanks to ubiquitous cheap computing, DIY technology, and biological understanding, we’re on the cusp of revolution where anyone can engineer biology. The BHV this year will be a soft-launch distributed over several DEF CON areas, as we get our feet wet and gauge interest. Next year, at DEF CON 24, we plan to launch a full village.

The Plan

Presentations will be located in the Village Talks Track (Bronze 4) and it is a room not very far from our village. We are running a micro-village this year, but this year is a great opportunity to test the waters and get more of the DEF CON community interested and involved in BioHacking themselves and the world. Hack the planet! The village is located in the middle of the contest area (Bally's Event Center), which will give us high visibility and lots of random foot traffic. As you can probably tell by now, we are very excited to bring biology and bioengineering to the world's largest hacker convention. Please look out for us and please stop by, we will be a four table square with a BioHacking Village banner and various demos. We will have a limited amount of swag, but most of all we will have interesting demos, conversations, and you can sign up for our planning list if you want to become part of the DC_BHV volunteer staff. Also, speakers will be available at the booth at various random times through the conference for an informal Q&A.

What is Biohacking?

We believe that biohacking is the practice of approaching biology with a hacker’s perspective and philosophy. This includes much of the shared “hacker ethic”, such as: reverse-engineering, hands-on learning, information sharing, transparency, decentralization, free & fair access, world improvement and information security. The BHV focus on human augmentation and the current generation of genetic engineering known as synthetic biology.

The state of bioengineering technology is much like computing before the transistor. Progress has been slow, haphazard and unpredictable. However, advances are now being made quickly. DNA printing and sequencing technology is becoming cheaper and faster at a quicker rate than Moore's Law. GMO yeast can be utilized as a chemical factory for biofuel and medicine while bacteria can be engineered to fight cancer or help clean contaminated soil. This is truly an exciting (and frightening) time for biohackers and humanity as a whole.

On the human side, DARPA is working on an implantable thin-film memory prosthesis (for wounded veterans with traumatic brain injury), senses are being augmented through haptic feedback, and virtual reality is coming back full force. Perhaps as Icarus thought, “the sky's the limit”, but of course as Uncle Ben from Spider Man (and Voltaire) said, with great power comes great responsibility. Biotech has massive potential and implications for just about everyone.

What should I expect?

The BHV will focus on the two major areas of biohacking: human augmentation and genetic engineering. We are also interested in quantified self or health related content, but there will be no sales pitches! Companies can present demos and prototypes, perhaps even a finished product, but the content has to be compelling and clearly worth the audience’s time.

We are going to give priority to content that is useful to the DEF CON community and the hacker community at large. We want to share practical and conceptual knowledge.

    What kind of talks?

  • Overview of transformative biotechnologies (DNA printers, neurotech, nanotech, robotics)
  • Human-computer interfaces (neurotech, augmentations, etc)
  • Examples of Biology as Information Technology (programming DNA, networks in nature)
  • Parallels between InfoSec & BioSec
  • Biosecurity / Bioterrorism (Community, Prevention, and Incident Response)
  • Community Labs / DIYbio / Citizen Science / iGEM / Youth & Adult Education
  • Public health
  • Health hacking (Quantified Self, maybe some "lifehacking" tech, but no bullcrap)
  • Hacking the brain (using technology as opposed to psychology: that is clearly SE Village)
  • Law & Ethics of biohacking
  • The Art, Design, and Philosophy of the biohacker movement
  • We are also interested in...

  • Low-tech or "Natural" biohacking projects that are useful and fun (introductory-level)
  • Biohacking projects suitable for home
  • Demos of software, hardware, and wetware tech used to manipulate biological systems
  • Open Source in biotechnology (BioBricks)
  • Synthetic & Systems Biology
  • Humanitarian Projects based on biotechnology
  • Ecology, Food Security, and Geoengineering
  • Economics and InfoSec of Biotech Healthcare
  • Any other topics that you think would be enriching for hackers

Rules of the BioHacking Village

  • Must be ethical, safe, practical. Also, it should be sane...
  • No sales pitches, but demos of useful tech, commercial products or not, is encouraged
  • Unsure if your proposal falls within our rules? Didn't see your topic on the list? Please fill out a CFP form anyway, perhaps we made an oversight.

  • If you'd like to speak at the Biohacking Village this year, sorry, our CFP closed July 1st. If you'd like to do a demo, we may still have space for you, so email us ASAP. The CFP for DC24's BioHacking Village will open in very early 2016 and close much earlier than this year, just much better for planning and booking cheap travel. Watch for our tweets @DC_BHV for important updates before, during, and after DefCon 23... and for many neat biohacking & bioengineering retweets.

    If you have any questions and for media inquires, please email us at For general discussion, we have a space on the DEF CON forums.

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