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Defense Department Eyes Hacker Con For New Recruits 154

alphadogg writes "The US Air Force has found an unlikely source of new recruits: the yearly Defcon hacking conference, which has been running since Thursday in Las Vegas. Col. Michael Convertino came to Defcon for the first time last year, and after finding about 60 good candidates for both enlisted and civilian positions, decided to come back again. Federal agencies have only recently begun embracing the hacker crowd. When US Department of Defense director of futures exploration Jim Christy hosted his first Defcon 'Meet the Fed' panel in 1999, he was one of two people onstage. At this week's Defcon, there may be several thousand federal employees in attendance, he said."
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Defense Department Eyes Hacker Con For New Recruits

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  • by ta bu shi da yu ( 687699 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @10:47AM (#28916909) Homepage

    Seriously, these events attract at lot of smart, independent thinking people who love technology. What better place to recruit people? If it works at Universities, then it probably works better at DefCon.

    I guess they were worried about the "independent thinking" before...

    • by russotto ( 537200 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @11:06AM (#28917089) Journal

      Seriously, these events attract at lot of smart, independent thinking people who love technology. What better place to recruit people?

      Emphasis mine. Civilian positions are one thing, but it seems to me if you put a smart and independent thinking person through the military's recruit-crusher, you're either going to get a non-independent-thinking person, a smart and independent thinking person who has been faking non-independent thinking and hates the military for it, or a corpse.

      Hackers & discipline... probably not the best combination ever.

      • While perhaps not the most disciplined troops in the group, Americans who hvae passed through the educational system and who have access to a television are well-versed in patriotism.

        What the military doesn't need is free-thinkers. Hackers, by virtue of their status as hackers, are not necessarily free-thinkers. If they've passed through the American educational system, they've already been trained as much as the military needs. The American public school system is designed to train patriots. I wouldn't wor

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by tibman ( 623933 )

          I don't think you understand the military very well. They NEED freethinkers. A soldier who can look at facts and make a decision based on the knowledge at hand (not tied down to racial/religious bias and a lot of other baggage) is a key part of military leadership. Not all thoughts can be acted upon however. The action itself must adhere to the current regulations, SOP, and ROE. But that doesn't mean they can't express that opinion, by all means do so.

          The biggest goal for any military unit is "mission

          • by Narnie ( 1349029 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @02:34PM (#28918655)
            From my enlistment w/ the military, I found that in the wartime situation, enlisted freethinkers were the most beneficial to the military and often helped the unit the most and were most rewarded. Conversely, during the peace time, the enlisted followers/conformist were most often rewarded because they were least bored and had the least amount of issues with adhering to the regulations, SOP, and ROE. Of course, this leads to an interesting dichotomy of the enlisted ranks--those senior NCOs who demanded strict adherence to orders (because they expect conformists), and those NCOs that would let a few minor things slide if you could get shit done.

            Sure, freethinkers who can conform to regulations are the ideal, but many times the junior ranks are beaten with the "conform stick" enough that the freethinkers leave the military before they advance to a rank that encourages creativity.
            • by cenc ( 1310167 )

              That is why every time the U.S. goes to war again after being out for a few years, we go through a rapid replacement of officers at the top. Piece time officers that got promoted for storming their desk, rarely make good leaders in combat because they do not adapt well.

      • by Darth_brooks ( 180756 ) * <clipper377.gmail@com> on Sunday August 02, 2009 @11:32AM (#28917293) Homepage

        Hackers & discipline... probably not the best combination ever.

        Score -1: So wrong it hurts to read.

        The best hackers i know of are the ones who *are* disciplined. Go to sourceforge and look at the overwhelming number of half assed, dead projects the clutter up the works. The best open source projects are the ones that have taken years of hard work to reach maturity. That's real discipline.

        The linux kernel wasn't written in a nights hacking in Linus' moms basement. It takes years of dedication and hard work to get to the level of "holy freaking crap, that guy is amazing" hacking. Simply knocking around around in perl does not a hacker make. For ever 10 hackers out there that won't put up with the bullshit that military service brings, there are probably one or two who will go that extra mile. Kudos to the air force for figuring that out.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by metrix007 ( 200091 )

          I love that some people still try to reclaim the word hacker. In a story about DEFCON no less.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by michaelhood ( 667393 )

          The linux kernel wasn't written in a nights hacking in Linus' moms basement.

          Yes, it took many thousands of nights' hacking in Linus' mom's basement.

      • by Mprx ( 82435 )
        Or possibly several corpses. The military is based on the principle that some evil people are beyond the reach of civilized justice so the morally correct thing to do is to kill them. In boot camp, you're faced with an abusive psychopath who also happens to be beyond the reach of civilized justice. He probably believes what he is doing is right, but then so do the "enemy combatants". By any logical standpoint, the fat guy in Full Metal Jacket was the real hero.
        • you're faced with an abusive psychopath

          have you ever went through boot camp? I've been through it and Advanced Individual Training [wikipedia.org] for the infantry [wikipedia.org]. I did not face any abusive psychopaths while in training for either one. The only tyme I had trouble was in Germany, where they make up their own rules.

          Falcon

          • by Mprx ( 82435 )
            I faced the public school system (state school system in UK terminology), which is boot camp on easy mode, so I'm certain that if I ever somehow ended up in real boot camp it would be a corpse producing situation. Stories of boot camp may be exaggerated in some cases, but stereotypes are based on truth.
            • Same here. And despite the bad rep public education has how good or bad a school is is partially due to the school administration and teachers. That's one reason I support charter schools, magnet schools, and school choice. Schools should compeat against each other. The one thing I do not support is taxpayer funded Christian theology unless is part of an understanding religion curriculum with other religions being taught the same way.

              Falcon

      • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @11:46AM (#28917421) Journal
        Depends on the task. Strict discipline is needed in some parts of the military because if you hesitate when following an order, it can cost lives. This isn't the case for a lot of support services. Hackers recruited by this kind of process are going to be doing things like penetration testing on the DoD networks, designing ways of compromising enemy systems without detection, and so on. This kind of thing doesn't have anything like the same requirements as a front-line soldier. It's been a while since I worked with the military, but they're generally willing to put up with a lot of eccentricities if they don't threaten lives. If they weren't, they'd have a serious shortage of senior officers...
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by xxuserxx ( 1341131 )
          I was an IT in the navy for 6 years and I still encountered high stress. I was on a DDG so the crew was around 300. We had a lot of colatteral duties requiring me to take up arms from a 9mm to .50 cal mounted big ass gun. Also General Quarters requires everyone to be in a critical thinking life or death situation. Its very rare that you will never be put in danger. 9/11 one of the planes that hit the Pentagon hit the one of the offices of a Navy IT dept that was basicly an intel command. Your a target
          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by sdiz ( 224607 )

            9/11 one of the planes that hit the Pentagon hit the one of the offices of a Navy IT dept that was basicly an intel command.

            I guess you should have used AMD.

        • Strict discipline is needed in some parts of the military because if you hesitate when following an order, it can cost lives. This isn't the case for a lot of support services. Hackers recruited by this kind of process are going to be doing things like penetration testing on the DoD networks, designing ways of compromising enemy systems without detection, and so on. This kind of thing doesn't have anything like the same requirements as a front-line soldier.

          Yes discipline is needed but that does not mean fre

      • by biryokumaru ( 822262 ) * <biryokumaru@gmail.com> on Sunday August 02, 2009 @12:32PM (#28917785)

        You obviously aren't in the military. Trust me, there is no mind-crushing mentality in any branch save possibly the marines. In fact, most good supervisors encourage lateral thinking from junior level enlisted men, and I don't know a single Master Chief (I'm Navy) who hasn't told that story of the Seaman who saved the day by saying something didn't seem right.

        Independent thinking, smart people are exactly the type of folk we want in the military, not brain-dead puppets. The military does a heck of a lot more than serve as cannon fodder in the middle east.

        • You obviously aren't in the military.

          And they've probably never met anyone who was. Military knowledge in this crowd usually stops somewhere around the US Civil War or WWI, because they really do think of those guys as cannon fodder.

          Hint to the /. crowd at large: the military has really, really cool toys, and when you work for them you can break into systems without worrying about going to jail. I knew a guy who did ROTC and joined the Army solely to be able to fly combat helicopters - if you want to fly

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by russotto ( 537200 )

            And they've probably never met anyone who was. Military knowledge in this crowd usually stops somewhere around the US Civil War or WWI, because they really do think of those guys as cannon fodder.

            So there's no more breaking down recruits as individuals in order to build them up as soldiers? I find that hard to believe.

            • Of course they do some of that - as others point out in this thread, you have to learn to work within a large, hierarchical organization where lives are at stake all the time. But that's not the same as being a dumb piece of meat that is marched forth into blazing enemy fire on the assumption that going over the top will work this time.

              People join the military for all sorts of reasons. Some really do just want to be allowed to kill people. Some feel that it's a great way to contribute to their country. So
              • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

                by garompeta ( 1068578 )

                and it's enormously successful at fighting wars

                What war was won by the US after World War II?
                I mean important modern warfare.
                Korean war? Technically still in war.
                Vietnam War? Lost. (although some people are still confused about this fact. YES, the US LOST the Vietnam war)
                Persian Gulf War? Won. (heh, a last)
                Afghanistan War? Still ongoing, still spending humongous amounts of money trying to fix a country that it is becoming more and more unstable.
                Iraq War? Still ongoing (with horrible results, everybody agrees it is a failure everybody can't help b

                • You'll note that I limited that superiority to straight-up war, which we win quite handily. We don't do as well with prolonged low-level conflict - then again, nobody does.

                  Yes, the Korean War is still technically in action, but I think that - unless Kim Jong-Il has stepped things up quite a bit overnight - it's very much a cold war. The Vietnam War was the war that we won until we decided it would be better to lose, and then even more embarrassingly decided that the South Vietnamese needed to lose too.

                  Th
          • "the military has really, really cool toys, and when you work for them you can break into systems without worrying about going to jail."

            this would be about the only E (ring) ticket left for folks today

            and besides Basements are cooler if they are DOD spec basements :-)
            "I do live in a Command Center!!"

      • by Runaway1956 ( 1322357 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @12:48PM (#28917911) Homepage Journal

        "it seems to me if you put a smart and independent thinking person through the military's recruit-crusher, you're either going to get a non-independent-thinking person, a smart and independent thinking person who has been faking non-independent thinking and hates the military for it, or a corpse."

        And, may I ask how many years you served, and in what branch?

        In my 8 years of service, I was never made aware that I should think some sort of "group think". In fact, those people who were advanced most rapidly generally though "outside the box". My own meritorious advancement to E-5 was a result of having both balls and brains. (lest anyone asks, I never had brawn - just plenty of balls) That is to say, I saw the situation differently than my leaders, and I took some initiative to accomplish the mission.

        The day the military begins hammering independent thought out of men's heads, the military will most definitely fail.

        To be perfectly honest, your statement is pretty insulting to veterans. It suggests that men and women who complete one or more tours of duty successfully are either mindless puppets, or dishonest people. If that is what you really mean, then maybe you should look around you. Wherever you live, there are good men and women around you who are veterans and are very successful. Maybe your boss? Maybe HIS boss?

        • My own meritorious advancement to E-5 was a result of having both balls and brains. (lest anyone asks, I never had brawn - just plenty of balls)

          And your modesty probably didn't hurt ;-)

      • It's the freaking Air Force, the IT branch of the military. The normal run of the mill Air Force recruit's combat training is 15 minutes with an M-16 and then 18 weeks of procurement training.

        ~Sticky

      • by Eil ( 82413 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @01:35PM (#28918237) Homepage Journal

        Civilian positions are one thing, but it seems to me if you put a smart and independent thinking person through the military's recruit-crusher, you're either going to get a non-independent-thinking person, a smart and independent thinking person who has been faking non-independent thinking and hates the military for it, or a corpse.

        Hackers & discipline... probably not the best combination ever.

        Be careful not to overgeneralize. Not all geeks/hackers are anti-authority by nature. Many of those that are learn to get over it as they mature. To get very far in the real world, you have to be willing to accept that other people (often daft ones) will get to boss you around once in awhile. If you want to succeed, you have to learn to take it in stride. By all means, stand up for what you believe in, but don't think that being a belligerent idealist will win you many friends in any field or environment.

        While I wouldn't necessarily call myself a hacker, I am a pretty independent geek and despite that I enjoyed most of my time in the active duty military. Granted, I worked on autopilots rather than PCs, but if I could hack it, I think any geek can. Plus, the discipline that the military provides is exactly what a lot of young hackers need to turn their raw skills and knowledge into a career that can propel them into positions where they can call the shots and do what's needed for the security of the nation's infrastructure.

        The fact that the DoD is starting to see hackers as resources rather than adversaries is extremely encouraging and should be applauded. Just a decade or two ago, this was the stuff of science fiction.

      • Hackers, at least the good ones, are highly disciplined people. Lack of discipline leads to sloppyness, which invariably eventually leads to big problems. If you're working illegally, you'll be sloppy in covering your tracks. If you're legal, you'll be sloppy in your security and someone will break it. Either case, you're not a good hacker.

        Discipline doesn't necessarily mean obedience, though. Don't confuse those two.

      • Civilian positions are one thing, but it seems to me if you put a smart and independent thinking person through the military's recruit-crusher, you're either going to get a non-independent-thinking person, a smart and independent thinking person who has been faking non-independent thinking and hates the military for it, or a corpse.

        There are other possibilities, someone who gets discharged early or stays in longer than planned.

        Falcon

      • by db32 ( 862117 )
        Yes...because that is exactly what history has shown us. Why is it that people get to say totally uninformed, moronic, and rather offensive crap about the military and get modded insightful? Maybe, JUST MAYBE, you should go read up on some of those poor stupid people... The fact is, those independent-thinkers frequently rise to leadership positions, or are otherwise well decorated people for superior performance. Almost every last single one of the wartime heroes that are celebrated in military history
    • They don't look much like independent thinkers when they're all lined up in their LAN parties... more like drones pressing buttons...

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by falconwolf ( 725481 )

      Seriously, these events attract at lot of smart, independent thinking people who love technology. What better place to recruit people? If it works at Universities, then it probably works better at DefCon.

      I guess they were worried about the "independent thinking" before...

      It's a love hate relationship. Though the military doesn't like free or independent thinkers, it has also used them. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency [wikipedia.org] or DARPA has funded research at a number of universities, some considered more

    • by rindeee ( 530084 )

      This is how I got in to the INFOSEC field...20 years ago. Nothing new.

    • The really good hackers they extradite from The UK!
  • by Norsefire ( 1494323 ) * on Sunday August 02, 2009 @10:52AM (#28916945) Journal
    Next year at Blackhat:

    - Moxie Marlinspike demonstrates how to pwn an F22-Raptor has it passes your datacenter

    - K Chen describes how an attacker can install malicious code into the firmware of the steering console in a M1A2

    - Joshua Abraham demonstrates several flaws in secret identities used by CIA agents

    - Marc Bevand disarms Russian missiles with an ATI Graphics card

    - Joe Grand now gets free parking in a Black Hawk
    • by HBI ( 604924 )

      They sign a contract with the government when you get your security clearance. The contract basically pledges you to a lifetime of keeping whatever secrets you were given access to. The price if you break it is lengthy imprisonment, which is spelled out in the contract. I forget the form name, someone else probably remembers it.

      It would be hard to do any of those things without falling afoul of that.

      • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @11:50AM (#28917447) Journal
        If you signed such a form, you obviously didn't read it. It is not a contract, and it does not have any legal weight as a contract. All that the form says is that you are aware that you are bound by existing laws which protect official secrets. If you don't sign, you are still bound by exactly the same laws, but if you do (and you generally need to, although they forgot to have me sign mine for a couple of months) then you can't claim ignorance of the law in court (which isn't a defence, but may lead to a reduced sentence).
        • by HBI ( 604924 )

          Sigh. You're wrong. Standard form 312 [fas.org] is perfectly enforceable, as many people who have been prosecuted and sued into oblivion have found out to their despair.

          • Read the form again. The penalty for breaching the conditions laid down is not imprisonment, it is termination of security clearance and firing. If you disclose classified information to people without clearance you are subject to prison irrespective of whether you sign the form or not. Clauses 1 and 3, in particular, both clearly state that the signing the form is signing that you are aware of the relevant laws regarding disclosure of classified material. Read clause 4 in particular, which states that

    • Oh c'mon, it's trivial to get free parking in a Blackhawk. Just land it and there it is. Try to tow it, I dare you.

  • Good recruits? (Score:1, Insightful)

    An American bomb falls on a wedding in the Swat Valley and creates 50 new terrorist recruits.

    An American soldier kills three people in a private home in Iraq. The youngest son witnesses the carnage and becomes a life-long anti-American soldier.

    A young girl witnesses her mother ripped to shreds by a missile fired by an unmanned American drone.

    The War Against Terrorism (TWAT) is a fight against innocents. To claim any less is simply a rationalization of the pani inflicted upon those who have nothing to do wit

    • And where better to fight the Government than within it?

      Other than a different country, with slack extradition laws.
    • Dear sir,

      Thanks for not posting as an Anonymous Coward.

      Your sincerely,
      The FBI.
    • by voss ( 52565 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @11:25AM (#28917231)

      Pretty much every Al queda leader has come from a country weve never attacked, many of the countries are in fact our "allies"

      The leaders of Al queda come from Saudi Arabia and Egypt, its not our wars that create our enemies its our support for repressive regimes.

      In Vietnam a country where we waged a 15 year war, they welcome american tourists and even former american GI's. We dropped atomic
      bombs on Japan and now we are their strongest ally.

      The problems in Afghanistan have been there before the US arrived (for 30 years) and will be there after the US leaves

      • We dropped atomic
        bombs on Japan and now we are their strongest ally.

        well clearly we have the answer!

        we nuke iraq, iran, and north korea, and they'll absolutely love us!

      • Pretty much every Al queda leader has come from a country weve never attacked, many of the countries are in fact our "allies"

        And, oddly enough, none of the leadership are willing to strap explosives to themselves and die for their cause. Strange how that works out.

        • No need, when they lead a group of people who collectively are culturally primitive, and only marginally literate.

          People who would think Sharia Law is something to be desired really aren't fit to eat at the Big People's Table.

          It's a backward culture, fools led by hucksters.

        • And, oddly enough, none of the leadership are willing to strap explosives to themselves and die for their cause. Strange how that works out.

          Except those who started and led Al-Qaeda went to Afghanistan to fight against the Soviet Union. Osama bin Laden started by fighting the Soviets. Like politicians there are some who are willing to fight while others are chicken hawks.

          Falcon

      • by koolfy ( 1213316 ) <koolfy.gmail@com> on Sunday August 02, 2009 @12:37PM (#28917819) Homepage Journal
        After a great war, civilians who lost their families, houses and so are willing to build their country back, live in peace and forget about war, forever.

        Germans could want a WWII, only because WWI did not affected German civilians the way WWII did, most of WWI happened outside German soil, and on France's one. People in Germany felt frustrated when their government gave up on a war civilians didn't even see with their eyes, they could not conceive a war can be lost abroad one's country, and wanted revenge to political restrictions made by the "winners" of that war they did not see they were loosing.
        That's how Hitler could hit people with his hate speech, otherwise, people would have slap his face with ruins of their house shouting "didn't we suffered enough ??" ;)
        Now, France and Germany are strong friends, and really not willing to get into a war again.

        There is this famous french popular quote, after WWI : "Plus jamais ca." ("never again."), I think we all feel the same across the world, after a real war.

        The US keeps voting YES to wars because they never had to feel bombs above their heads, nor their parents.
        Though it's a terrible tragedy in human history, WTC was nothing compared to a war on one's soil.

        only exceptions are people weak against religious/political/media manipulation, and that's mostly an education level problem, the US weren't at war against Afghanistan, or Irak as far as I know, they were at war with a minority of religious terrorists, a dictator, and the people the dictator had under control. I don't think intellectuals and non-manipulated civilians and farmers ever wanted a fight against world's no.1 army...

        I don't know about Vietnam, but the USAÂdid a really good job helping Japan after the war, I have been told in school that US people sent in Japan after the war felt terrible about what war did to the country and did their best, for the good of Japanese people. Really.


        Please if you disagree, don't mod me down : I'm young, and still have much to learn, instead reply and feed me with the facts I don't know... AC, I'm looking at you.
      • "its not our wars that create our enemies its our support for repressive regimes."

        Question is - how do we convince the money grubbers who actually run Washington of that? I'm quite tired of seeing blood spilled to "protect American interests", which invariably translates to "influential wealty American's financial interests".

        • "its not our wars that create our enemies its our support for repressive regimes."

          Question is - how do we convince the money grubbers who actually run Washington of that?

          They don't need to be convinced, they want it that way.

          Falcon

      • We dropped atomic bombs on Japan and now we are their strongest ally.

        Yeah, but then they turn around and give us Dragonball Z: it's clear their intentions are to culturally destroy the world as punishment.

      • Actually the US waged war with Viet Nam more than 20 years. President Eisenhower, the same one that warned against the military-industrial complex, sent Colonel Edward Lansdale [wikipedia.org] to Indo-china in 1953. France and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam agreed to the Geneva Accords [wikipedia.org] in 1954 wherein the people of Viet Nam, both north and south, would vote on whether to reunite. However Ngo Dinh Diem [wikipedia.org] who won in rigged elections as South Vietnam's first president and Eisenhower opposed the voting. So Lansdale who wa

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      There is no real "government" to fight anymore; the Federal govt in the US is just the administrative arm of the corporate oligarchy. We're all screwed.
      • You can always buy shares in the corporate oligarchy and vote out your current oligarch at the next shareholders' meeting. Or you could vote for politicians who are willing to withdraw corporate charters.
    • In every steaming pile there lies a grain of truth.

      despite what you find pretty to believe, the military as a whole goes to great lengths to minimize collateral damage.

      The fact of the matter is that every action has the risk of collateral damage.

      and yeah - killing a certain percentage of innocents has always been, and always will be acceptable once the decision to prosecute a war has been made.

      The logical extension of your statements is that all armed conflict will fail, which is demonstrably not the case.

  • by jcr ( 53032 ) <jcr AT mac DOT com> on Sunday August 02, 2009 @11:10AM (#28917111) Journal

    I guess in the next year or two, it will be "spot the non-fed."

    -jcr

    • One reason why I stopped going. Other cons get "too commercial". DefCon got "too government". One half of the "good" people doesn't dare to present because they fear being hauled away, the other half presents only part of their findings because they want to lure the .gov into buying the rest.

  • by thenextstevejobs ( 1586847 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @11:27AM (#28917251)

    I drove all the way down to Vegas from SF Thursday, and by Friday evening I was ready to get out of there. I went to a few panels and was thoroughly underwhelmed. It was crowded, not exciting. Several people walked out of talks. I overheard some other people say "maybe tomorrow will be better". Well, I don't know because I sold my badge and bailed early.

    Not to say that there couldn't have been some good smart people to hire there. But after the level of disappointingness Defcon had to offer, I'm no longer impressed. The atmosphere definitely did not inspire me to want to hire anybody.

    • I held in and was probably the one you heard, "maybe tomorrow will be better." Nope.

      The words "sell out" came to mind. Remember the early burning-man days? Defcon was once a group that met for a "love of the craft" that has become a certification desktoper recruitment fest.

      Sad really, maybe time to let this one go the way of E3 no?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Opportunist ( 166417 )

      DC kinda got stale lately. I can't put my finger on it, but compared to other cons, even the public ones like BH or even VB, they really lost their edge. As much as I hate the word "mainstream", but it seems DC got that label. It's become yet another con where business and government goes to exchange views, it's gone from a hacker's "insider" con to a "commercial" con. Certainly good for their income and maybe the only way to finance something like that, but depressing when you think of the things that happ

    • by jofny ( 540291 )
      If the only thing you focused on at Defcon were talks and panels, you sort of missed the point and the benefit of being there. The talks and panels are just excuses to get a bunch of smart people together to jam. Next time, stay after the talks and grab some of the speakers to chat. Find some of the parties, chat. Meet people, network, discuss ideas, drink heavily and relax.
    • by dave562 ( 969951 )
      Once DT started up Black Hat, all of the real technical content left DefCon and never really came back. DefCon became the social scene for the hacker community. I went to the first five and have only been to a couple since then. I almost went this year but the flu kept me home. I wasn't planning on going for all of the elite hackerness of it. I was planning on going to see friends I hadn't seen in years.
  • ...background and psych testing on their new contractors. "Independent minded hackers" are just the sort that would blackmail, leak, sabotage or otherwise betray the military's efforts in a second if they ever felt dissed, slighted or P.O.'d for whatever reason. That's the nature of the beast. You'd only need one guy who felt slighted or got yelled at by some uptight Air Force colonel and the next thing you know the US missile defense satellites all go dark until the brass apologizes.
    • And yet, that's never happened.

      Do you seriously think that the average DefCon attendee is more disenchanted with government than were people like me?

      I was a stoner high school drop out who was also a Mensan,
      It was either the military, or living in my parents' basement.

      The culture shock was huge.

      Finding holes in security systems controlling Polaris missile systems was fun, but only an intellectual exercise.

      I found several different ways in which it would be trivial for one person with no special access to de

  • What hacker? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by codepunk ( 167897 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @12:00PM (#28917523)

    Now what sort of hacker is going to enlist in the military? First of all he will make 1/10 th of what he can just using his existing skills. Second
    of all he would likely be enlisted man and even if he was a officer he would have to put up with the incredible amount of crap that
    comes with military service.

    Then you have the same sort of issue with civilian govt service, who wants to put up with it. Half of these guys have no degree so the pay
    scale does not benefit them either. On top of this it likely requires a TS clearance and how many of these people could actually obtain
    the required clearance.

    • by blhack ( 921171 )

      Now what sort of hacker is going to enlist in the military?

      You might not be very familiar with hacker culture. Most hackers, myself included, would pay for the privilege of being able to toy with the sort of computing systems that the military has...

      Echelon? That is a real, live, working system. Any hacker out there that DOESN'T start salivating at the mere thought of an opportunity to play with that can turn in their membership card at the door.

      • Re:What hacker? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by lidocaineus ( 661282 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @01:35PM (#28918243)

        Uh, 99% of most military computing systems are terrible in terms of computing power. Any of the big projects (of which there are not that many that are even interesting) will have maybe a handful of people that can do anything outside of a set working template of "fill in the blanks for your query" type interfaces. The military portrayed in movies does not exist.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Echelon? That is a real, live, working system. Any hacker out there that DOESN'T start salivating at the mere thought of an opportunity to play with that can turn in their membership card at the door.

        An ethical hacker would puke, not salivate, at the prospect of working on such a project as Echelon.
        --
        DK

      • The military isn't going to let hackers play with their big "guns" willy-nilly like it was a spare box at home to test out software and shit on.

      • And having spent 10 years in the military I can tell you that you may wish to rethink that. 10 years ago I was on ship that had
        analog gear driven computers for the fire control system. It was a impressive piece of gear but high tech it was not.

    • They're hiring. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Animats ( 122034 )

      Now what sort of hacker is going to enlist in the military?

      An unemployed one. At least the U.S. military is hiring.

      Of course, even if you go in for a technical job, you may be deployed to Iraq, wiring up CAT-5 cable and Cisco routers while dodging IEDs on your way to work.

      Much military work today is about systems for sorting out who's enemy and who isn't. The days when everybody in front of you is enemy are over. (In recent decades, enemies who've tried stand-up battles against US troops were defea

    • Now what sort of hacker is going to enlist in the military?

      One who feels a sense of duty and knows sacrifices need to be made for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Those who know "The tree of liberty [wikipedia.org] must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." Before going to college with a major in Computer Engineering I first enlisted in the military.

      Second of all he would likely be enlisted man and even if he was a officer he would have to put up with the incredible amount o

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Sunday August 02, 2009 @12:38PM (#28917823) Homepage

    Security is very discouraging. I was in the field a long time ago and got fed up. It's just hopeless. The same problems come up over and over.

    • Microsoft has the mindset that anything executable that comes near their operating system should immediately be executed. CDs and DVDs autorun. USB devices autorun. Active-X controls autorun. Universal Plug and Play stuff autoruns. Yes, they now have some "security controls" on this, which sometimes actually work.
    • Remote update. Not only is patch downloading a lousy way to prevent security problems, the download process itself introduces a huge backdoor. With every two-bit application now supporting remote update, it's easy to find an attack vector.
    • Overly powerful "install" mechanisms. Apple had it approximately right in the original MacOS; an application was one file with a resource fork. Delete one file and the app was gone. Now, installers expect to run with administrator privileges and blither all over the machine.
    • Crappy security models. We know what works - mandatory security with integrity levels. The trouble is that most apps whine when made to work under those restrictions.
    • Thirty years of buffer overflows. The fundamental problem is that the C and C++ concept of arrays is broken. The language has no idea how big an array is. That's defective by design. The C++ crowd tries to paper over the problem with templates, but the mold always comes through the wallpaper. Most of the newer languages come with a gonzo interpretive system underneath, which makes them slow, overly complex, or both.

    That's just part of the list. I don't see a determined effort to fix the underlying problems. Given that, it's hopeless.

    • Microsoft has the mindset that anything executable that comes near their operating system should immediately be executed. CDs and DVDs autorun. USB devices autorun. Active-X controls autorun. Universal Plug and Play stuff autoruns. Yes, they now have some "security controls" on this, which sometimes actually work.

      And can you name a couple of examples of this happening in Windows Vista or Windows 7? Vista has been out for 2 years now, it is, like it or not, "the current Windows version." And it does none of

      • by Animats ( 122034 )

        And can you name a couple of examples of this happening in Windows Vista or Windows 7? Vista has been out for 2 years now, it is, like it or not, "the current Windows version."

        Yes, I can. [internetnews.com]: "Hypponen detailed how Conficker's code triggered an autorun on Windows, even when a user might have had autorun disabled for USB media."

        • That's an exploit, not "the mindset that anything executable that comes near their operating system should immediately be executed."

          If you meant to include exploits, well, ok, but that's not what you *said* originally. Also, all OSes have exploits.

  • You know most of the real geeks could not get into the armed forces because of their lack of physical stamina, so they end up on the side lines, someone finally woke up and say, hey hackers don't need to run 5 miles everyday....!
    I think it is great for the public sector to finally get a hand in what security (gov. security) is all about.
    You have much better chance getting scure with people who are used to eluding the keystone capers.

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