Even 10-Year-Olds Are Hacking Video Games Now

Even 10-Year-Olds Are Hacking Video Games Now

At this year’s DefCon hacking conference in Las Vegas, for the first time kids were invited to take part. And take part they certainly did.

A new addition to the program, the “DefCon Kids Village”, let little ones aged 8-16 show off their skills and be taught the ways of the good side of the force (or “white hat” hacking, in which their powers are used for good).

One kid in particular stole the show, a ten-year-old girl (and a girl scout to boot) who found a simple yet effective exploit in an “unnamed social game”. Fed up with the way this game forced long waits between activity on her, she began “tinkering with the code” until she found that the game’s internal clock could be fooled if you began a game on a wi-fi network then left and adjusted your phone’s clock manually.

By advancing time the game unlocked things earlier than it would otherwise have done, she could unlock items and perform actions ahead of time. This exploit wasn’t just casually mentioned at the show; it formed the cornerstone of her stage presentation called “Apps-A Traveler of Both Time and Space, And What I Learned About Zero-Days and Responsible Disclosure.”

OK, so it’s not much of a hack, and by that headline it sounds like she got a little help from the folks, but still. She’s ten! If a game hadn’t done what I wanted it to do at ten I’d have either cried a little or just walked away. Crying a little.

10-Year-Old Presents App Exploit at DefCon [PC Mag]


  • Didn’t Jenova Chen already do something like this with the Smurf Village game? Sounds like game developers didn’t learn their lessons.

    Still, kudos to the kid. She did what any kid does and worked out how to circumvent restrictions put in place by adults. By the sounds of things it was also an exploit that didn’t just apply to the original game, but others as well. It’s kind of scary how tech-savvy kids are these days, back in my day, it was only a handful of us who were into computers in any way beyond word-processing.

  • This is the second time i’ve seen this today… This is the biggest bullshit story. I was doing this on an “unnamed social game” last year, where’s my article?

  • Meh, I was hex editing Prince Of Persia when I was 8 for unlimited health. I believe I had to type FF FF FF a bunch of times in XT Gold. Try beating that facebook kidz 😉

  • For those reading at home, the “unnamed social game” is clearly FarmVille, as it was already posted in an article a few days ago.
    Old news is old.

    Basically, all she did was change her phone’s clock so her FarmVille crops grew faster, that’s not “hacking” by pure definition.

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