Feds asked to sit out Defcon

Last year National Security Agency boss Gen. Keith Alexander showed up at the Defcon hacker conference as a keynote speaker wearing blue jeans and a black t-shirt and called on hackers to team up with the with the NSA to protect “networks, civil liberties and privacy.”

That was last year. This year the founder of the world’s most famous hacker convention, Jeff Moss, is asking Alexander and his ilk to sit out Defcon apparently over the issue of fugitive former NSA contractor Edward Snowden who had spilled the beans on the government agency’s mass online snooping activities.
“I think it would be best for everyone involved if the feds call a time-out and not attend Defcon this year,” Moss, also known as The Dark Tangent, wrote in his blog. “This will give everybody time to think about how got here and what comes next.”
Defcon has attracted officials from agencies such as the NSA, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Secret Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation as well as military groups in the past. The event which has been held for the last 20 years has been an hub where ”seasoned pros, hackers, academics and feds” could meet share ideas and party on neutral grounds, according to Moss.


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He said the community always operated in a spirit of openness and trust. But this time around, something appears to have changed.

“When it comes to sharing and socializing with feds, recent revelations have made many in the community uncomfortable about this relationship,” said Moss.

At least one security researcher said that Moss, who is respected in both black hat and white hat communities, may have overstepped his bounds.

Moss’s statement was “not in order” although it was “an important one,” said Michael Sutton, vice-president of security research firm Zscaler.

He said the statement illustrates the “deep disappointment of the Defcon community who feel they were blatantly lied to in the light of the Prism scandal.”

At the conference last year, when Alexander was asked if the NSA was spying on U.S. citizens, the general said no.

Sutton said Moss was sending the NSA a message saying “you disrespected us in our own house – we’d prefer you not visit this year.”

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