back to article Feds BANNED from DEF CON by founder (who is Obama's cyber-expert)

Jeff Moss - the US government security advisor who founded the DEF CON hacking convention - has urged federal agents to stay away from the conference next month. For the first time in the annual event's 20-year history, g-men and spooks have been made unwelcome. Exactly how effective the request will be remains to be seen. …


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  1. Gil Grissum

    Does anyone think that the Feds won't show up at DEF CON because they were asked not to come? Feds have jurisdiction all over the entire United States. Does anyone think that if Feds are spotted and asked to leave, that they will either go willingly or be "escorted out"? Who has the jurisdiction to escort a Federal Agent out of any facility? One must wonder what Feds were really doing at DEF CON in the first place, given the PRISM revelation. Likely up close and personal slurping data and keeping watch on all of the attendees. And even if they don't physically show up, they obviously can still slurp data and keep an eye on the attendees.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      They could be asked to leave if they have signed a statement about their credentials being truthfully given and they lied. They might be able to pull some legal trick to stay inside the convention, but it might be perfectly legal for a staff member to follow them around with a sign pointing at them that reads: Caution, FED.

      I don't think anyone would find it hard to believe that the feds are at the convention to collect names, take pictures and engage in all sorts of SIGINT.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Spot the fed" was always a popular sport at DEFCON and blackhat

    2. Tom 38 Silver badge

      Feds don't have super rights to enter private premises without a warrant. They can simply be asked to leave, and unless they have a warrant, they will have to obey.

      1. Charles Manning

        "Feds don't have super rights to enter private premises...".

        They just need to provide some reasonable cause to suspect something dodgy going on and they can get any permission they want.

        In this case it is rather easy. Bunch of hackers discussing and distributing security holes. Of course those can be construed to be reasonable grounds.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @ tom 38, How long has your head been in the sand

        The Feds do what they want. See these images from the house to house search after the boston Marathon bombing. Non of that was legal..

        oh yeah if your dog barks at them they will shoot that too.

        Watch this movie and pay close attention to the Hurricane Katrina aftermath.

        AC for obvious reasons.

  2. Ole Juul


    Why is Jeff Moss still working for the feds after the recent events? One would think that he would have quit over that.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Conflicts

      He's been working for them for so long, he can't do anything else, man has to eat somethingright?

  3. MachDiamond Silver badge


    I haven't been to DefCon in a few years, but I used to always get asked if I am a Fed. There is an ongoing game called "Spot the Fed" and my personal style is rather conservative; short hair, clothing in colors found in nature, etc. I can see the organizer's point and it would probably be good idea if The Man® didn't send as many operatives and discouraged those planning on attending on their own from making the trip. It's a fantastic conference with excellent presentations and the opportunity to network (party) with other IT professionals. You can spot the top IT security managers from Fortune 50 companies by the wild hair, piercings and psychedelic clothing. Pretty much how they look on a work day. The corporate execs are scared sh**less of firing these guys, so they tend to get away with excessive personal style.

    1. Chris Miller

      Re: bummer

      From your description of yourself, you're clearly not a Fed. Do you think they turn up wearing windcheaters with FBI (or NSA) across the shoulders (or 3-piece suits with button down shirts)? They're more likely to be those psychedelic guys you mention - it's certainly not a description of any of the Fortune 500 CISOs that I know.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: bummer

        One would think that the feds would try to "blend in" but they are often too clean cut, too buff and possess too rigid a posture and can be spotted without too much effort. I don't doubt that there are some that look the part.

        You are correct that not all of the CISO's are sporting the alternative fashions to an extreme, but I do know some that fit my original description. Check out the best 'Capture the Flag" teams. Definately the crew that live on RedBull and Mac&Cheese and have limited laundry skills but you wouldn't want to piss them off if you had on-line assets that you want to keep on-line.

        Gotta go flog some junk on eBay. I starting to get a strong urge to make it to DefCon this year since I have already had to skip The Amazing Meeting and Burning Man is a no-go.

  4. Reg T.

    The Feds

    are present always since hackers like Moss work for the Feds and the Feds fund many of the attendees. The same "notice of disaffection" would be met with derision if KKK officials announced that their upcoming convention would not admit Federal agents. Some 75% of their "membership" would thus be banned.

  5. Knoydart
    Black Helicopters

    Hacking the till

    Good to see that the entrance fee is payable in cash only. Shows that cold hard paper is the least most vulnerable payment system in the organisers eyes

  6. myarse
    Black Helicopters

    While they can't stop the undercover Feds I think the implication is that the many people from three letter agancies that have been openly attending, and giving talks, since Def Con's start are no longer welcome.

    Half of the fun of Def Con is it's one of the few places where poachers and gamekeepers openly mix and share ideas.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Half of the fun of Def Con is it's one of the few places where poachers and gamekeepers openly mix and share ideas."

      Well, only half were having the fun while and that half wasn't being open at all and hence no sharing.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    You'd have to be a naive fool to believe the Feds won't be there.

  8. Anonymous Coward 15
    Black Helicopters

    How would you know, since they're meant to be good at keeping secrets and all?

  9. dssf

    No easy way to weed them out since it is plausible that all the major

    Investigative and enforcement agencies likely have safehouses as well as multiple shell companies complete with legit ADP accounts and tax reporting cycles and legit employees who have no idea whatsoever that their "employer" is a front organization set up purely to be implantable into just about any convention tangential to their "core competency".

    I would not be surprised if many of the startups of the past 10 years were set up by well-groomed students bgoght into "the Organization", tipped by well-placed VCs who were "encouraged" by various intel to "promote" investment in a new, fledgeling group of Stanford, Yale, Harvard, MIT, Columbia, whatever students. Probably 1 out of every 29 new startups has an "operative" in it or on the board and may be insulated well enough to not be kicked off the board no matter what unliked decisions he or she makes. This would make it easy to bring in new, support team members without arousing suspicion of existing employees, other than those perpetually paranoid that an auditor, vendor, or relative of a co-worker is their near-time/near-term replacement.

    Well, at least in a movie or actioner or thriller this might be something to posit...

  10. dssf

    Which CEO is a Fed Game

    "Which CEO, CTO, CFO, Etc is a Fed" Game

    Now, this would be an interesting game to play.

    OTOH, it might become a matter of becoming a subject of economic and reputation destruction once real Feds really get outed.

    Or, it might cause collateral damage when boards averse to unwelcome plants start dismissing key officers out of paranoia or just to make a point...

    Play this game at your own risk. Prior outing success not an indicator or guarantee of future success. Losers may be never seen again or may never be seen again. You have been warned...

    Based on a TRUE STORY...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Which CEO is a Fed Game

      Some C-levels are former Feds, and some Feds are former C-levels, semi-legitimately.

  11. perlcat

    In other news...

    Moss is *shocked* to discover that the feds are spying.

    Hope he gets over his case of the vapours pretty soon.

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