Feds Flock to Las Vegas Hacking Convention, Seeking Recruits


Defcon, a Las Vegas convention of computers hackers, was crawling with federal agents, says the New York Times. They smiled, shook hands, handed out business cards, spoke on a panel called “Meet the Federal Agent 2.0” and were congenial. Federal agents have been hanging out at hacker gatherings for years to snoop, but this time they came with another purpose: to schmooze and recruit.

The United States Cyber Command, the Pentagon's Internet defense arm, has “needs that some in this community can solve,” a spokesman said. Government agencies especially need computer professionals with cybersecurity skills. At Defcon, these skills were in ample supply — and they can alternately thrill and scare. There were hackers and lockpickers here, problem solvers and troublemakers. Most, whether out of fear or conceit, insisted on using their digital names rather than their real ones: LosT, alien, Abstract. And in their midst were Internet crime investigators representing the Army, Navy, Air Force and NASA. The F.B.I. set up a recruiting table at Black Hat, a related Las Vegas conference of security professionals earlier in the week.

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