Backbytes: Black Hat to the NSA – 'Your name's not down, you're not coming in'

By Backbytes
01 Aug 2014 View Comments

The man from the US National Security Agency (NSA) always used to get invited to the best parties. He was particularly popular for his clever mind-reading trick - no one could work out how he did it...

Today, though, he's keeping a lower profile, and at security conventions where the NSA has happily mingled in the past, it is no longer quite as welcome as a supplier of extremely well-informed speakers.

Further reading

Take the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas, Nevada next week. In the past, the NSA would supply a few speakers for the event. This year, new NSA director Admiral Mike Rogers hasn't even been invited, which is probably just as well given the reception given to his hapless predecessor, Keith Alexander, last year.

Invited to speak before whistleblower Edward Snowden started revealing just how extensive the NSA's internet surveillance really is, Alexander's speech was little more than a (poor) defence of the NSA's activities and Alexander was roundly heckled.

His speech might have gone down better if he hadn't answered a question at Def Con 2012 about the NSA's intelligence-gathering activities with this blatant whopper: "The story that we have millions or hundreds of millions of dossiers on people is absolutely false."

The highly esteemed US intelligence community won't be completely left out, however. The CIA's own venture capital firm, In-Q-Tel, will be represented by its in-house security expert Dan Greer.

He is unlikely, however, to be invited to many parties this year.

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