July 11, 2013
DefCon Looking To Keep Feds Out Of Hacker Convention
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
The feds once attended the DefCon hacker events in Las Vegas to recruit promising young hackers to help shore up national cyber security. Now following the recent news about the NSA and national surveillance, DefCon's founder has publicly asked members of the federal government to stay away from the convention this year.
In a post entitled "Feds, we need some time apart" on the DefCon website, founder Jeff Moss, who operates online under the moniker The Dark Tangent, explains why they're asking the feds to take a year off from the convention.
"Our community operates in the spirit of openness, verified trust, and mutual respect," writes Moss in a post dated July 10, 2013.
"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."
The convention will be held this year at the Rio hotel in Las Vegas from August 1 through August 4.
In addition to founding the DefCon, Moss advises the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on matters concerning cyber security. In an interview with Reuters, he says it wasn't easy to ask the feds to stay away this year, but believed it would be best for the 15,000 hackers attending the convention to take some time and digest the new world of surveillance we now live in.
"The community is digesting things that the Feds have had a decade to understand and come to terms with," explained Moss in an interview with Reuters' Jim Finkle. "A little bit of time and distance can be a healthy thing, especially when emotions are running high."
Though they've been asked not to attend, members of the federal government won't be banned outright from the convention floor. According to Moss, no one will be checking badges or IDs or asking anyone to leave; they just prefer if the feds stay home this year.
This request is just the latest in a long line of companies and organizations petitioning the government to become more open about their actions as they pertain to surveillance. It was only recently discovered that the National Security Agency (NSA) has had a program in place called PRISM, which allows for the easy passage of information between tech companies and the government.
General Keith Alexander, head of the NSA, made an appearance at DefCon last year urging hackers to join the team and help defend America's cyberspace from outside hackers and espionage attacks. When asked, Alexander immediately denied the government was snooping on American citizens.
"The people who would say we are doing that should know better," said Alexander.
Though Alexander and his peers won't be in attendance at this year's DefCon, he is expected to make an appearance at this year's BlackHat convention, a security convention which is geared mostly towards the corporate industry.