Dear FBI, please don’t come to DEFCON 21. Thank You.

Dear FBI, please don’t come to DEFCON 21. Thank You.

Henry Dalziel | Information Security Conferences, Latest InfoSec News | July 14, 2013

Information Security Conferences is one of our main categories on our blog, and we recently wrote a piece about TakeDownCon in Huntsville, so inevitability when we came across a comment written by Jeff Moss regarding the FBI and DEFCON, we had to write this post.

(For those that are interested here are our cybersecurity events list for 2015 and 2016.)

DEF CON Founder, Jeff Moss, ‘Dark Tangent’ wrote:

“For over two decades DEF CON has been an open nexus of hacker culture, a place where seasoned pros, hackers, academics, and feds can meet, share ideas and party on neutral territory. Our community operates in the spirit of openness, verified trust, and mutual respect.

When it comes to sharing and socializing with feds, recent revelations have made many in the community uncomfortable about this relationship. Therefore, I think it would be best for everyone involved if the feds call a ‘time-out’ and not attend DEF CON this year.

This will give everybody time to think about how we got here, and what comes next.”

The funny thing is that last year the DEF CON keynote speaker was Keith Alexander who heads the NSA. Pretty unbelievable turn around if you think about it especially when asked, quote:

“Does the NSA really keep a file on everyone, and if so, how can I see mine?”

Alexander replied:

“Our job is foreign intelligence” and that “Those who would want to weave the story that we have millions or hundreds of millions of dossiers on people, is absolutely false…From my perspective, this is absolute nonsense.”

Wow! Ouch! Must hurt….(you can see the DEF CON 2012 Keith Alexander YouTube here)

The relationship between the FBI and Hackers attending DEF CON has been an awkward one. It is said that in the early years (DEF CON started in 1992) the FBI used to pretend to be hackers and mingle with the crowd. That ‘relationship’ then developed into an open-secret which became a standing joke.

This year, like most things in the InfoSec Sphere, is going to be different. The event is just around the corner, August 1st and over 10,000 hackers, ethical hackers, and information security professionals are expected to attend and we are sure the hot topic will be Edward Snowdon, PRISM, and well, everything to do with Internet Privacy!

Jeff Moss does seem to insinuate that the FBI, and NSA and any other three letter abbreviation you can think of, has been an integral part of the DEF CON experience.

Here are just a few Interesting DEF CON events!
2001 Russian programmer Dmitry Sklyarov was arrested after he gave a talk at DEF CON – he had created a way to decrypt Adobe’s e-book file structure.
2005 Mike Lynn was threatened by Cisco not to talk about security vulnerabilities he had discovered in their routers
2007 Michelle Madigan, a journalist for NBC, tried to secretly record hackers discussing their hacks – needless to say, she was outed and was quickly evicted from the building
2008 Zack Anderson, R.J. Ryan and Alessandro Chiesa were all arrested for a now infamous presentation titled: “Want free subway rides for life?” As you can guess, the talk, which was directed at the New York Subway, they were sued!

There are other incidents, we just sourced these from Wikipedia, but please, add a comment below if you can think of any others!

Of course, if the FBI want to attend, they will figure out a way to do so and there is no enforcement on who attends – after all, it’s open to the paying public! What do you think about NSA professionals and the FBI being ‘denied’ entry to this years DEF CON? Have you been before? Did you enjoy it?

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