At the ToorCon convention in California, a representative from the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project encouraged hackers to break the new computers to ultimately make them safer.

Ivan Kristic said that the OLPC will present some “very scary” security problems once the machines are in the wild, as they’re designed to link up via a mesh wireless network.

The simple, basic, Linux-based computers will sport a 500MHz AMD processor, 128MB of system memory, and 512MB of flash storage. Kristic explained that the computers are designed to be hackable so that kids learning about IT could take it apart; any damage can be repaired by restoring it from a central server, USB flash sticks, or from the mesh network.

They’re also supposed to connect seamlessly via the network, and are designed to transmit software or applications transparently. Although this will improve useability, it also makes it a “bloody scary” scenario, according to Kristic.

Kristic wants the computers to be secure from malicious attacks that will try to wipe them out, but still keep the hackable aspect to them, which seems an impossible task.

Kristic told attendees, “I want to help you break these machines … before there are a billion of them out in the field”.

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