[ISN] DEFCON 12: Feds Yes, Anarchy No

InfoSec News isn at c4i.org
Wed Aug 4 13:44:29 EDT 2004


[The lack of ISN postings for the last few days was because I was
attending Defcon, a few little grumbles I will go into later, but I
did attend the "Crimethinc" talk expecting the speaker to leave that
talk bloodied, which it nearly came to that. Priest (the lead Goon) 
did hold a little "Spot the Fed" before the talk to make "Crimethinc" 
well aware of the number of Feds in the room, not to mention the six 
or so that he invited in to watch.  -  WK]

By Doug Mohney
03 August 2004

DEFCON 12, the longest running hacker conference in creation, was a
little more laid back this year despite selling out all of their 4,000
badges on the first day. People seemed to be less angry and the queues
to get into speeches moved along rather promptly. Even the
always-amusing cultural contrasts were turned down a bit, but the
Jesus Phreakers still had a table next to the more titillating Culture
Junkie in the vendor's room.

DEFCON 12's de facto guest of honor was Robert Morris, National 
Security Agency's Chief Scientist from 1986 to 1994. With his scraggly 
beard and unfiltered Camels, Morris would have blended in well with 
the retirees pumping quarters in the slot machines over at Sam's Town. 
Morris was quite happy wandering about talking to the gawking youth 
and dropping hints that he didn't really like John Ashcroft. 

Morris was one of a group of current and former U.S. government 
employees that appeared on the "Meet the Fed" panel on Saturday 
afternoon. It was the first time in several years Feds had officially 
spoken at DEFCON and the panelists used the first half of their 
presentation as an ad hoc recruiting pitch. Uncle Sam wants talented 
and clean (i.e. no arrests or documented bad behavior) computer 
security people. "You can get up to 70 or 75 percent of your students 
loans forgiven," repeated one official. The U.S. government has a 
large number of open computer sec positions to fill and has a tough 
time retaining employees. Entry-level employees join up, learn the 
ropes, and then end up departing 3 to 4 years later for more lucrative 
private sector positions. 

The warm welcome and love the Feds felt was nothing compared to the 
reception one self-styled "Revolutionary Hacker Anarchist" calling 
himself "Crimethinc" got during his presentation on "Electronic Civil 
Disobedience." Starting out as an introduction into the theory of 
hacker activism, the talk quickly degenerated into comedy with a 
full-blown rant against Capitalist Pigs combine with a Very Public 
description of how the Republican National Committee and various 
corporate web sites would supposedly be attacked one week before the 
convention and the day of the convention. He finished off his rant by 
encouraging destructive property actions against buses and harassment 
of RNC convention delegates in New York City. "We will have a list of 
the hotels they are staying at and the Broadway plays they are 
attending," stated Crimethinc. 

His finish turned the audience against him and earned him two 
reprimands from DEFCON staff, first a short "You crossed the line, you 
can't say THAT," from red-shirted DEFCON "goon" staff, followed by a 
more eloquent and perhaps unprecedented statement from "Priest," a 
long-time DEFCON staffer/legend. Priest very clearly stated that 
DEFCON staff and planers in no way, shape, or form encouraged the 
views of Crimethinc, or breaking the law and went on to emphasize that 
if people wish to protest injustice, they should do so within the law. 
The young Crimethinc was quickly escorted off the stage to a holding 
area by a pair of DEFCON staffers as several angry audience members 
rushed the stage to confront him. "He should be beaten in front of the 
Bellagio," remarked one frustrated woman. (The Bellagio is among the 
most elegant casino/hotels on the Vegas Strip). 

On a more upbeat note, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) was 
raking in the dollars from a fishbowl for donations at their table in 
the vendor area and a dunking booth outside. DEFCON organizer Jeff 
Moss took his turn in the booth getting wet for the EFF.


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