NSA Chief to Pitch "Common Core Values" to Hackers at DEFCON 20
July 24, 2012 3:25 PM
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Gen. Alexander will not be fair game for fed-spotting contest
The hacker community is the ultimate moral gray. While many hackers engage in malicious activities on a daily basis, and routinely violate U.S. local, state, and federal laws, they also have been vital over the last two decades in
consumers. In the 1990s corporations recklessly stored data using poor practices which threatened to allow personal financial information to fall into the hands of truly malicious individuals.
Hackers effectively forced the corporate world to protect their users. Sometimes it was enough to show companies via discrete disclosure. Other times hackers looked to force the hand of entities unwilling to protect their users via more severe methods, such as full disclosure of published intrusions.
I. Gen. Alexander Pitches Common Ground to Hackers
On the eve of the twentieth year of
, one of the largest and most popular hacker conferences, a relationship as uneasy as that between hackers and corporations is being highlighted -- the relationship between hackers and the government.
As previously mentioned, hackers tend to break a lot of laws (not all hackers, mind you, but most) most operate in a principled fashion. And hackers are crucial assets to the U.S. government as it faces cyber-belligerence from operatives in competitive and/or hostile nation states --
most notably, China
After all, if
the public homepage of the
U.S. Central Intelligence Agency
, it stands to reason that an army of trained black hats from China could do all nature of harm such as stock market manipulation and theft of classified weapons designs.
In the spirit of uneasy cooperation between the hacker community and the government, DEF CON founder Jeff Moss has invited
General Keith Alexander
-- the head of the
U.S. National Security Agency
U.S. Cyber Command
-- to be the 12:00 Track 1 slot.
General Keith Alexander will add some color to DEF CON. [Image Source: DefenseTech]
General Alexander is an intriguing figure who has been pivotal in drafting the U.S.'s rules on when it can
hack foreign governments
. He has also
promoted inter-agency information sharing
for fighting terrorism, cyber-threats, and common crime.
His talk is entitled "
Shared Values, Shared Responsibility
". It will reportedly look to offer common ground between the U.S. Intelligence Community's objectives and those of the hacker community. General Alexander says the feds and the hackers both view the internet as a positive force, both value privacy (or so he says), and both (typically) look to protect users from malicious criminals, albeit using decidedly different methodology.
If all goes well, the General's talk could engender some support from the hacker community, which could help the feds' recruiting elements.
II. DEF CON Founder Jeff Moss Shows You Can be a Fed and Still Have Cred
The Dark Tangent
" aka. Jeff Moss is a hacker who has seen both sides of the aisle. Despite his history as an underground phone phreaker, The Dark Tangent secured a prestigious position in information security at accounting firm Ernst & Young, LLP. He left Ernst & Young to found DEF CON.
The Dark Tangent, aka. Jeff Moss [Image Source: ABC News]
In recent years he has also collaborated with the government, serving as a member of President Obama's
Department of Homeland Security’s Advisory Council
and, more recently, as the head of non-profit
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers
(ICANN). The ICANN role is extremely prestigious, considering that the entire global internet relies on the firm's management of internet naming and numbering.
Despite his close ties to the federal government, The Dark Tangent keeps his tongue firmly planted in cheek, masterminding DEF CON events such as "Spot the Fed". As it is common for
to attend the conference to keep an eye on the attendees "projects" or look to
covertly recruit hackers
, Mr. Moss created a contest where people who successfully identify an attending agent (as judged by the crowd of hackers in the vicinity) get a coveted T-shirt reading, "I Spotted The Fed at DEF CON".
Gen. Alexander is off limits for the fed-spotting contest. [Image Source: Pop. Sci]
No T-shirts will be awarded for spotting General Alexander, however -- after all, good social engineers solve hard problems not easy ones.
DEF CON is a four-day event running from July 26 to 29. In the spirit of secure transactions, there are no attendee reservations. Admission is a one-time fee of $200 USD in semi-untraceable cash, which gains you entrance to the entire week of festivities.
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
7/27/2012 4:20:47 PM
The NSA and many in the hacker community share the common values of believing laws do not apply to them. The ends justify the means. Infringe people's privacy and property for the perceived greater good of exposing threats and wrongdoing. So two wrongs or three lefts make a right.
RE: Common Values!?
7/30/2012 1:42:04 AM
"So two wrongs or three lefts make a right. "
This is generally true if there were no abuse in their positions. Benevolent behaviour is one thing but abuse for their own agendas will result in much unnecessary suffering to many others involved. The key problem is the complete LACK of a "Moral Compass" due to the corrupted practices and mind manipulations of the alphabet agencies. So why touch them with a barged-pole. Throw that pole away and head the opposite direction. Or better, still cloak your self in stealth and remain invisible for as long as possible.
Correcting bad behavior
7/25/2012 8:26:31 AM
yep, corporations often need corrections.
Competition helps, as does publicity. Regulations are not always well directed -- for many reasons.
we should all take a moment to thank everyone who works to keep the Net open and free, as well as those who work to bring information to light,-- which often very desperately need to be brought to light.
as we know: corruption cannot stand in daylight.
7/24/2012 4:42:36 PM
If I were one of these people they're trying to reach out to, I'd look at all the stories over the past year of careless leaks related to this type of intelligence work... And say thanks, but no thanks.
Better and safer, I'd think, to work independently, or at least choose a country that takes security seriously, like Israel and Mossad, if this is the side of the ideological war one wants to be on. Playing on the international stage is risky business; can't count off hand the number of targeted assassinations over the past several years on both sides, plus however many that get filtered by the media or wont be learned about until some dope stumbles on a declassified document in 50 years.
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