Cyber Security Experts Boycott, Refuse to Speak at RSA Conference After NSA Deal
January 9, 2014 4:17 PM
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NSA entered into a $10 million contract with RSA to place a flawed formula within encryption software
Security industry leader
RSA was caught working with the U.S. National Security Agency
(NSA), and now it's seeing some backlash from former allies.
According to a new report from
, some leaders in the computer security world who were scheduled to speak at the RSA Conference next month have backed out due to recent discoveries about the RSA's connections with the NSA.
The report said Mikko Hypponen, chief technology officer of F-Secure; Josh Thomas, the Chief Breaking Officer at security firm Atredis, and Jeffrey Carr, another security industry veteran who analyzes espionage and cyber warfare methods, have all canceled their presentations at the RSA Conference.
Carr and Hypponen have taken it a step further by boycotting the conference. Hypponen said "nationality" was the reason for his cancellation while Carr said the RSA had violated its customers' trust.
"I don't want to send mixed messages, so I have canceled all my appearances at RSA 2014," said Hypponen.
Once Carr announced his boycott, others followed, including Marcia Hoffman, privacy attorney and former Electronic Frontier Foundation lawyer; Alex Fowler, Mozilla privacy and public policy expert; Christopher Soghoian, American Civil Liberties Union advocate and privacy expert; Adam Langley, Google security expert, and Chris Palmer, Google Chrome security engineer.
The RSA Conference is scheduled for next month in San Francisco.
Jeffrey Carr [SOURCE: jeffreycarr.blogspot.com]
According to documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the NSA entered into
a $10 million contract with RSA
to place a flawed formula within encryption software (which is widely used in personal computers and other products) to obtain "back door" access to data. The RSA software that contained the flawed formula was called Bsafe, which was meant to increase security in computers. The formula was an algorithm called Dual Elliptic Curve, and it was created within the NSA. RSA started using it in 2004 even before the National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST) approved it.
RSA said it had no idea that the algorithm was flawed, or that it gave the NSA back door access to countless computers and devices. The NSA reportedly sold the algorithm as an enhancement to security without letting the RSA in on its real intentions.
"Recent press coverage has asserted that RSA entered into a 'secret contract' with the NSA to incorporate a known flawed random number generator into its BSAFE encryption libraries. We categorically deny this allegation," said RSA in a
Many in the security community were surprised at RSA's entanglement with the NSA, but the latest news of a $10 million contract as well has really shocked the industry.
RSA is known as a pioneer in the realm of computer security, and has notoriously fought off the NSA in previous attempts at breaking encryption in the 1990s.
"I can't imagine a worse action, short of a company's CEO getting involved in child porn," said Carr. "I don't know what worse action a security company could take than to sell a product to a customer with a backdoor in it.”
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NSA is Schizophrenic
1/10/2014 8:40:15 AM
The NSA is tasked with both intercepting foreign communications and protecting US government communications from being intercepted and cracked. So half of them want to put back doors in the security standards, and the other half don't. Sorta funny if you think about it.
It does, however, make sense that a company/standards committee would be thrilled to get and algorithm from them since they employ a VERY large number of very smart cryptologists. I just would've thought if they were not in bed with the NSA they would've double checked and triple checked it for backdoors before using it.
"It's okay. The scenarios aren't that clear. But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that." -- Bill Gates on the Apple iPad
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