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Def Con Hackers On Whether They'd Work For the NSA

timothy posted about a year ago | from the well-wouldja? dept.

Government 126

Daniel_Stuckey writes "Premier hacker conference Def Con, which just wrapped up its 21st year, played host to security professionals who all had very different opinions on what the NSA is up to. In fact, the only thing everyone could agree on is that the PRISM revelations came as no surprise. Even if it isn't news to this crowd, it is still a significant development in the general climate of government surveillance and national security. And at Def Con, where government recruitment was hampered this year by conference founder Jeff Moss's requesting that feds stay away, it seemed like a good idea to walk around asking people if they would still want to work for the NSA."

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Do I get a hot girlfriend like Ed Snowden? (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44488627)

Re:Do I get a hot girlfriend like Ed Snowden? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44488767)

i c what u smear thar !

Re:Do I get a hot girlfriend like Ed Snowden? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44489865)

That was actually one piece of justice.

The Edward Snowdens of the world SHOULD have the hot chicks.

What about the mafia? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44488701)

They have "big projects" also.

The only reason worth working for the NSA (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44488707)

Is continuing Edward Snowden's great work.

Re:The only reason worth working for the NSA (0, Troll)

mfh (56) | about a year ago | (#44490653)

Snowden appears to have originally entered NSA with the intent to gather data to release publicly. He appears to have an interest backing him. He has had deception training -- it is obvious from his blank expression whenever he's interviewed. But he does let it slip from time to time. Perhaps intentionally.

Russia and China have everything to gain if USA is unable to track threats in realtime.

Re:The only reason worth working for the NSA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44490761)

Yes, then conveniently forget that he was an employee of the CIA for several years.

Re:The only reason worth working for the NSA (1)

EvilSS (557649) | about a year ago | (#44490807)

Yes, then conveniently forget that he was an employee of the CIA for several years.

Which, combined with how much trouble the US has gone to to make sure he was not apprehended and that he would be welcome in several countries makes one wonder.....

Re:The only reason worth working for the NSA (2)

Sabriel (134364) | about a year ago | (#44492571)

Idle thought: I wonder if / how many internal factions tripped over each other on this one.

Re:The only reason worth working for the NSA (1)

bdwebb (985489) | about a year ago | (#44492873)

Aside from base assumptions, what makes you believe that Snowden entered employment with the NSA with the intent to release data he was exposed to? Also, what gives you the impression that he has an interest backing him (other than those like Julian Assange who provided assistance after the initial release of his information)?

As stated below, he worked for the CIA and the NSA so of course he has training, but what do you see that gives away his backing interest in any way? In my opinion, the fact that the US gov't has hunted him so furiously and has taken the exact opposite approach that they mandate regarding any other nation's political refugees seeking asylum is what put such a potential fount of knowledge in other countries' hands in the first place.

Terrified, I'm sure... (5, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#44488731)

"Hey, you, geek. We've got cash, huge fucking computers, and it's totally legal* to hack whoever you want. You in?"

I'm inclined to guess that, between the people who love toys or have mortgages and the people who think that the NSA is A-OK(tm), they aren't too worried(plus, if your area of expertise or interest is something related to data mining, the NSA might count as honest work compared to, say, Facebook)...

Re:Terrified, I'm sure... (4, Insightful)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | about a year ago | (#44489215)

Yeah, it's one thing to be righteously fighting for principles against the Man, but it's a whole different ball game when you got mouths to feed. Or an fresh, empty resume to build. Or a mountain of loans to pay. Then you can't be so picky when trying to secure a decent source of income.

Re:Terrified, I'm sure... (3, Insightful)

dj245 (732906) | about a year ago | (#44489779)

Yeah, it's one thing to be righteously fighting for principles against the Man, but it's a whole different ball game when you got mouths to feed. Or an fresh, empty resume to build. Or a mountain of loans to pay. Then you can't be so picky when trying to secure a decent source of income.

I would disagree. There are so many hoops to jump through to work for an agency like NASA or a 3-letter agency that if I was in desperate need of a job, I would put them on the bottom of the list. Government hiring decisions take forever. Background checks take time. Work conditions are somewhat restrictive.

Working for a for-profit company is the path of least resistance. Hiring processes may be slow, but they are much faster than the government. If you add salary+benefits, government jobs *might* pay a little better, but maybe not. It is a wash in my line of work. I can't say about who would be more likely to hire a fresh graduate, but if I was really stuck, there are plenty of companies out there with lowball salaries which would put *something* on my resume before moving on.

Re:Terrified, I'm sure... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44489923)

No, it isn't different. You make a choice to do the right thing or you make a choice to do the wrong thing. I'm sick of everyone thinking everything is a shade of gray, it isn't. Black and F-ing White. Right and Wrong are not subjective, if you have a feeling it might be wrong then it is almost certainly wrong. You can say "I was only feeding my family", but guess what, we're all family and the only thing you were feeding was your greed and self preservation.

Re:Terrified, I'm sure... (5, Insightful)

PeeAitchPee (712652) | about a year ago | (#44490225)

Those of us who breed responsibly and only buy shit we can afford have very little sympathy for this point of view. And there's no reason to whore yourself out these days for evil in order to fill an empty resume -- this isn't post-Dot Com nuclear winter, not in the tech sector anyway. In summary, what you describe is the very reason our country is fucked up at this point. Folks who are willing to rationalize evil and immoral deeds for personal gain, at the expense of everyone else and our Constitutional rights, ABSOLUTELY are the problem.

Re:Terrified, I'm sure... (2)

shadowofwind (1209890) | about a year ago | (#44491565)

OK, I'm with you. I'm not willing to do surveillance work. I have 'breeded responsibly', with the qualification that it takes ~16 years to raise a child, and few people have jobs that can be trusted that far into the future. I have extensive MS level education in math, CS, and EE, and many years of experience with C, C++, C#, and Python. I've tended to specialize in algorithm development and speed performance optimization. I've been employed in San Jose for several years, but my house and family are in San Diego. I have had no success finding non-surveillance work there, in part because I lack experience in video game and mobile development. Moving my wife and kids to San Jose doesn't work either, because my current job is just barely tenable, my wife can't find work here, and it costs a fortune to raise a family here. I think I could find 'evil' employment in San Diego fairly easily though.

I don't have much respect for 'play it safe' cowards either. But despite all the moral posturing on slashdot, pretty much everyone I've ever met sells out when it comes to making an actual personal sacrifice for the sake of doing what's right. And that determines what the employment climate is, which as I see it can make it fairly hard for honest people to find a way to make a living.

Re:Terrified, I'm sure... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44490305)

when you got mouths to feed [...] or a mountain of loans to pay. Then you can't be so picky when trying to secure a decent source of income.

Why do you think so few people farm - and why do you think everyone is in debt? Because of people like you who felt their needs outweighed the needs of those they oppressed. Tell the judge at Nuremberg that you were so heavily in debt when you committed crimes against humanity.

Re:Terrified, I'm sure... (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | about a year ago | (#44490469)

it's a whole different ball game when you got mouths to feed

No, it isn't. We are talking about software engineers with degrees. They aren't a starving lot you know. If they are, it certainly isn't because they are refusing to work at the NSA.

Re:Terrified, I'm sure... (1, Troll)

Agent0013 (828350) | about a year ago | (#44490643)

And when the Death Star was destroyed, the people building because of mouths to feed were just as dead as everyone else. If a revolution comes and you end up getting shot, don't come crying to me because you chose to work for the side of evil.

Re:Terrified, I'm sure... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44490985)

Grow your own food, if you have mouths to feed. What if the job was murdering children, but it pays great? You in still? What if the work is not so extreme, but something like assuring that others will starve, you still in? If you have no boundries, then you're a complete shithead, and are a part of America's great problem. It's this exact mindset, "I gots mouths to feed, bro" that got us into this mess in the first place. Because once you take a bite of that apple, after chewing it all up, the next bite doesn't seem that bad. Next thing you know, you're totally ok with doing whatever else you're asked to do, and once you're raised your mortgage to something nice, with youre new big house and that, it's even harder to quit, because at that point, you're stuck with bills (and a new life style) and finding another job that'll pay what the NSA did isn't easy.

Of course, you could always suck dicks at the local train station. For your mindset, that shouldn't be a problem, right, bro? I mean, "mouths to feed" could eventually be "dicks to suck". Again, whatever you do, you will eventually find enough reasons to shut up that part of you that's telling you the whole time, "This is wrong, bro!"

If you're a pussy (1)

future assassin (639396) | about a year ago | (#44492145)

Yeah, it's one thing to be righteously fighting for principles against the Man, but it's a whole different ball game when you got mouths to feed. Or an fresh, empty resume to build. Or a mountain of loans to pay. Then you can't be so picky when trying to secure a decent source of income.

and you sell out your kids freedom/future for the next paycheck then yes, you are right. Thank god my mom wasn't a pussy like you and fought for freedom in Poland where she ended up in Goldap http://ipn.gov.pl/en/news/2008/women-in-internment.-goldap-1982-bialystok,-december-10 [ipn.gov.pl] ,

Re:Terrified, I'm sure... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44489637)

Fuck that. I'd much rather work for Facebook than the NSA and I despise Facebook. Hell, I'd rather be a janitor mopping up vomit and plunging shit down toilets than work for the NSA. The pay wouldn't be as good, but at least I could still look myself in the mirror.

Re:Terrified, I'm sure... (3, Funny)

g0bshiTe (596213) | about a year ago | (#44489879)

Funny you should say that, that's the position Facebook is hiring for.

Re:Terrified, I'm sure... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44490589)

It's a false choice, working for Facebook is also working for the NSA.

Re:Terrified, I'm sure... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44489973)

if it involves putting on the air of pompusness that my family who currently have government jobs entail, ill go back to grinding out pulleys or something. because the attitude is down right sickening.

Re:Terrified, I'm sure... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44490115)

Expect to see a couple of new TV series glorifying the work at NSA-type places, with cool looking actors defending America against all foreigners. That's how it works in the States, propaganda through TV and movies, with some sponsoring of key sports series, like the US Army sponsoring a Nascar team.

Re:Terrified, I'm sure... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44490721)

Expect to see a couple of new TV series glorifying the work at NSA-type places, with cool looking actors defending America against all foreigners.

You might be kidding but in Canada the Government encouraged a few television series such as "The Guard", "The Border", "Intelligence", "Combat Hospital", "Jetstream", and "The Beachcombers". Okay the last television series was tossed in to see if you were paying attention. ;-)

Re:Terrified, I'm sure... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44490595)

So you have to admit to engaging in illegal activity (hacking computer systems and electronic devices) during the interview with the National Security Agency which has the authority to arrest and/or detain indefinitely under various legislative acts and/or make you disappear? Yeah, I'll sign-up soon as I finish eating my last meal as a free person.

Re:Terrified, I'm sure... (1)

Lesrahpem (687242) | about a year ago | (#44491491)

(plus, if your area of expertise or interest is something related to data mining, the NSA might count as honest work compared to, say, Facebook)

When did the NSA and Facebook become separate entities?

Depends; does Halle Berry still work there? (1)

evilmidnightbomber77 (2891503) | about a year ago | (#44488777)

If so, count me in.

Re:Depends; does Halle Berry still work there? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44489017)

you're thinking of the DEA, a "sister organization" of the NSA

Re:Depends; does Halle Berry still work there? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44489045)

If so, count me in.

No, she's taken a teaching position at the Xavier School.

I'd do it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44488791)

to gather intelligence on the enemy.

Re:I'd do it... (2)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#44489029)

The NSA does introspection?

Re:I'd do it... (4, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#44489401)

The NSA does introspection?

If the recent reports that they can search a substantial percentage of the planet's internet activity; but not their own mailserver [propublica.org] are accurate, I'd be inclined to go with "Apparently not".

Yes (4, Interesting)

shuz (706678) | about a year ago | (#44488807)

Despite opinions on ethics for or against, the NSA is still widely considered to have interesting technologies to play with and viewed as leaders in computer system security development. I'm in IT because I love problem solving and the adrenaline rush of having to solve difficult problems under pressure. The responsibility of my job comes first. The only ethical dilemma for me is if someone with authority were to ask me to let a system fail to prove some kind of point.

Depends (5, Interesting)

SirGarlon (845873) | about a year ago | (#44488901)

Work for the NSA, doing what? The NSA does more than one thing. I'd be more than happy to work on developing next-generation crypto algorithms, for example. There is probably some work at the NSA that's compatible with my view of the law and common decency -- and much that is not.

Re:Depends (0)

spacepimp (664856) | about a year ago | (#44489211)

More than likely your requirement would be to insert less than random generation techniques into those platforms. You know "perverting" the system so to speak.

Re:Depends (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44489251)

Like you get to choose what you'll work on. That's almost as naive as a soldier who believes he gets to choose the battles he'll be fighting.

Re:Depends (1)

SirGarlon (845873) | about a year ago | (#44489557)

Unlike a soldier, a civilian employee can resign without repercussions. So you could always choose to say "shove it" rather than accept an unacceptable assignment.

Re:Depends (-1, Troll)

g0bshiTe (596213) | about a year ago | (#44489933)

Yes you can resign without repercussions though I think the term they use is retire which means they kill -9 j00.

The minus 9 ensures your execution.

Re:Depends (2)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#44489649)

the only way you'll get to work on next-generation crypto algos is by doing them. but if you work for nsa they'll never see the light of day and you'll be tried in secret court if you publish, only if you can provide an algo with a known vulnurability that is not obvious enough to get spotted in peer review will your work get out.

sounds like fun & games??

Re:Depends (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44490571)

You sir, have no idea what you are talking about. Why would someone get tried in a secret court?

Re:Depends (1, Interesting)

FuzzNugget (2840687) | about a year ago | (#44489703)

I guess that depends on your world view and personal philosophy. I don't think I'd be able to live with myself working for any organization that commits such atrocities, regardless of what department employed me. You're still in the same organization and you are still contributing to the problem indirectly (maybe that new encryption system you're developing will be used as part of a program injected into systems to spy on citizens)

I realize no organization is sparkling clean, but I know I'd sleep a lot better at night working for an organization whose overarching purpose aims for the betterment of society or at least *doesn't* cause detriment.

Re:Depends (1)

cavreader (1903280) | about a year ago | (#44492533)

What's really funny is that up until the Snowden circus you could find job advertisements for NSA positions where they actually included the acronyms of the NSA projects and the skillset required from which you could pretty much figure out what type of work you would be doing. And yes, one of the project acronyms was PRISM. SAIC removed the ads but you can still see them in Google cache.

Re:Yes (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#44489105)

"Once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down?

  That's not my department, says Wernher von Braun."

Re:Yes (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | about a year ago | (#44489273)

Wish I could mod you up. All out of points today.

Re:Yes (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#44489455)

Ironically enough, Tom Lehrer was actually an NSA mathematician, in the mid '50s; before doing the work for which he became better known...

Re:Yes (2)

HornWumpus (783565) | about a year ago | (#44489345)

'We aim for the stars'...'sometimes we hit London'.

Re:Yes (4, Insightful)

spacepimp (664856) | about a year ago | (#44489179)

You are legally obliged in working for the NSA to put the US Constitution first. Any work requirement that asks you to violate the constitution is illegal. So you would willfully be violating your primary objective by "putting your job first".

Re:Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44492727)

In the event of war, US citizens are required to take part of it one way or another if asked, so if they ask you to be a spy for the NSA against citizens, then you have no choice by law, but spying on citizens is unconstitutional so "ERROR: This program has become unresponsive, would you like to wait for it to respond, or terminate the program?"

Re:Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44489303)

I was only following orders, and I liked it.

Re:Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44489355)

The problem with "my job comes first" always boils down to 'whos giving the orders?' Today you might be developing new IT security systems for the White House. Tomorrow you might be undermining pro-Democratic/Republican lobbying IT systems.

Or maybe you won't! We don't know cause theres no transparency! (And no, the secret courts don't count since we don't/didn't even know about them either. For all we know/knew, they could have been a rubber-stamp for the NSA).

Re:Yes (5, Interesting)

nbauman (624611) | about a year ago | (#44489707)

Despite opinions on ethics for or against, the NSA is still widely considered to have interesting technologies to play with and viewed as leaders in computer system security development. I'm in IT because I love problem solving and the adrenaline rush of having to solve difficult problems under pressure. The responsibility of my job comes first. The only ethical dilemma for me is if someone with authority were to ask me to let a system fail to prove some kind of point.

With all due respect to Godwin, this ethical debate started during the cold war when everybody was thinking about the Nazis in WWII.

I aim at the stars, says Werner von Braun.
The rockets go up, and where they come down,
that's not my department, says Werner von Braun.
Sometimes I miss, I hit England.
But I aim at the stars, says Werner von Braun.

After they thought about WWII, a lot of scientists decided that it was wrong to just be a scientist and work on an interesting technical problem that can kill people at the end.

In particular, the top people who worked on nuclear weapons did some calculations and realized that they had constructed a machine that could destroy humanity. The people who worked on the intercontinental ballistics missiles developed some of the most advanced, cost-is-no-object integrated circuit chips, and every other technology.

Most good engineers will think out the end purpose of the work they're doing. They worked during WWII to save their country. During the cold war, they were working to destroy their country. I appreciate the adrenalin rush of problem-solving too, but you have to resist it if it's leading towards turning New York and Moscow into Hiroshima.

During the 1960s, a lot of people thought that the Vietnam war was horribly wrong (and after 3 million Vietnamese were killed in a country that now makes our sneakers, you can see their point). If you're an engineer, then on some level you want to contribute to society. Killing 3 million people in a stupid war is going in the opposite direction.

You wouldn't kill prisoners of war in order to solve an interesting scientific problem, would you? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment [wikipedia.org] Why is that different from helping to kill 3 million Vietnamese in exchange for working on an interesting technical problem?

Of course, maybe you're totally immoral. Maybe you want to be like Abdul Qadeer Khan, who sold the Pakistani nuclear weapons secrets to North Korea, Iran and Libya. I'm not sure what to say to those people.

Re:Yes (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about a year ago | (#44490863)

Vietnam was a pawn battle in the cold war. Looking at it out of context is insane.

Where do the Cambodian genocide victims fall in the accounting of deaths in the cold war?

Re:Yes (4, Insightful)

nbauman (624611) | about a year ago | (#44491375)

OK, look at it in context. We killed 3 million Vietnamese because the war hawks told us that if Vietnam fell to Communism, all the other southeast countries will fall to Communism, like dominoes. Vietnam fell to Communism. The dominoes didn't fall. They were wrong. 3 million lives destroyed for nothing. The war contractors made billions. Sound familiar? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraq_war [wikipedia.org]

Re:Yes (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44490897)

I appreciate the adrenalin rush of problem-solving too, but you have to resist it if it's leading towards turning New York and Moscow into Hiroshima.

(Shrug) Those weapons have, so far, prevented WWIII. I'd say we owe a debt of gratitude to the people who developed them.

Good Will Hunting 1997 says it for me (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44488831)

Re:Good Will Hunting 1997 says it for me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44489791)

Ha! I just watched this movie for the first time last night, and was practically cheering during that scene.

Also my captcha: "inform"

Re:Good Will Hunting 1997 says it for me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44489873)

Over 15 years later and that scene is 100% relevant to modern times.

Re:Good Will Hunting 1997 says it for me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44490229)

Sasha Grey has says it for me :)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=WtJ29UoedkM&t=10

Just goes to show you how evil they are (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44488859)

You may as well ask people: Hey, are you a sick evil fuck just looking to do something hypocritical for pathetic temporary gain?

Ask them if they ARE WORKING for NSA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44488871)

I bet NSA/CIA had a lot of staff working the halls planting the 'it's old hat', 'nothing to see' and other talking points.

The PRISM revelation IS new, we suspected but we never had proof of how bad it had gotten. The 'Mastering the Internet' mass surveillance op, IS NEW, literaly 18 months old since they turned it on. The revelation that warrants are not needed to access the data is so new, even the people in Congress doing oversight kept saying the opposite and seemed 'surprised' that they'd been misled.

I always believed RIPA required warrants to spy on people and William Hague's job was to separate the good surveillance (terrorists etc) from the bad (journalists, police, politicians, doctors, campaigners, you, me, your kids, your family etc.), then we find out William Hague thinks you are terrorists and issue blanket "spy on them all" warrants. This is new.

So pretending its old hat is just a COINTELPRO technique, it IS NEW, they're not trying to go after Snowden for releasing old info here.

Re:Ask them if they ARE WORKING for NSA (2)

greghodg (1453715) | about a year ago | (#44489309)

"No one was surprised" is such an elitist and immature statement. Millions of people across the country were VERY surprised by this. There's a big difference between believing in something and having proof of something. "Oh, that doesn't surprise me" is the equivalent of "I told you so!" after the facts are revealed. And its a worthless statement anyway, because it doesn't make one bit of difference if anyone was surprised. It doesn't change what's going on.

Re:Ask them if they ARE WORKING for NSA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44492019)

but attendees at defcon would not be or would any employee of a major telco

Re:Ask them if they ARE WORKING for NSA (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about a year ago | (#44489417)

Snowden should have downloaded the files on all the congresscritters, senior staff, all federal judges and clerks and the entire executive branch and released that.

I'm guessing at least half have some sort of dirt in their files that make them less then completely independent.

There is still hope. He might have all that dirt in his encrypted life insurance.

Re:Ask them if they ARE WORKING for NSA (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#44489935)

Snowden should have downloaded the files on all the congresscritters, senior staff, all federal judges and clerks and the entire executive branch and released that.

I'm guessing at least half have some sort of dirt in their files that make them less then completely independent.

There is still hope. He might have all that dirt in his encrypted life insurance.

I'm guessing they at least think he has something like that, considering the nigh unanimous calls for his blood.

I'm hoping/assuming he did (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44490203)

Well Snowden did mention he saw many abuses of the data that his bosses just shrugged off. So I assume he took a copy.

But to leak that he needs a filestore on Tor, (recently attacked by the NSA) or similar. I doubt the press would have the guts to report.

Lots more to come out here.

Re:Ask them if they ARE WORKING for NSA (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about a year ago | (#44492321)

Sure, as a rule congresspeople vote the bills the way their campaign contributors request. So we throw the bums out, then what? The next group of candidates will all be pre-selected to dance to the same tune before they even make it to the primaries.

We need ideas for an alternative, some way we can subvert the existing system to bring it back under our control, because as I see it the "default options" down the road we're on are jack-booted tyranny or violent rebellion with indeterminate results, and frankly neither one appeals to me.

Re:Ask them if they ARE WORKING for NSA (1)

brit74 (831798) | about a year ago | (#44491039)

Really? When I read the statement that "the only thing everyone could agree on is that the PRISM revelations came as no surprise", my first thought was "Yeah, I bet all the DEFCON guys said they weren't surprised -- but that's because they'd come off looking like an ignorant newbie if they said they were surprised. They want to appear like they know whats going on - that they have secret knowledge, that they're one step ahead of everyone because it makes them look like experts. To admit that they were surprised by the PRISM revelations, it makes them look like ignorant novices - something that they'd never want to do in front of their fellow hackers." I read it as a statement of immature posing, or (perhaps more generously) a statement indicative of their general paranoia.

Does a bear shit in the woods? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44488873)

If they're paid well, you bet they would.

Maybe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44488941)

Working for government agencies is widely reported to be sucky for a variety of reasons: lower pay than the private sector, heavy bureaucracy, political infighting, mediocre employees. It's just unattractive all around.

Re:Maybe (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44488989)

It's not so bad. I'm a chemist and work for the EPA in groundwater study of karst areas. It's such a niche field there is virtually no chance of getting a job outside of the government and it's stable, even with the sequester.

Re:Maybe (1)

gkndivebum (664421) | about a year ago | (#44489693)

[...] I'm a chemist and work for the EPA in groundwater study of karst areas. [...]

So you get paid to go cave diving? Nice!

Re:Maybe (5, Funny)

chill (34294) | about a year ago | (#44488999)

...heavy bureaucracy, political infighting, mediocre employees. It's just unattractive all around.

How is that different from the private sector?

Re:Maybe (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#44489053)

It's harder to get fired...

Re:Maybe (2)

Loughla (2531696) | about a year ago | (#44489195)

Having worked in both the private and public sector, I have to say that this stereotype is no longer true. It is just as damned near impossible to fire a long-term employee in both sectors. Also, the same type of spineless management exist in both, allowing new employees to fuck off quite a bit. This 'government jobs are super cushy' meme needs to go away. It might be true, but it's no more true (in this one person's experience) than in the private sector.

Like most things, it boils down to who you work for, not where you work.

(And private sector employees don't have their friends and family scrutinizing everything they do because "my taxes pay you". . . . . . So there's that)

Re:Maybe (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | about a year ago | (#44492039)

what with the week protections the usa has for workers I doubt that

Re:Maybe (1)

spacepimp (664856) | about a year ago | (#44489217)

states secret

Re:Maybe (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about a year ago | (#44489189)

Working for government agencies is widely reported to be sucky for a variety of reasons: lower pay than the private sector, heavy bureaucracy, political infighting, mediocre employees. It's just unattractive all around.

I'm a state employee (state university), not a federal one. But here's my counterpoint to your (valid) points.

Pay is definitely lower, but the benefits (vacation days, retirement, etc.) are often better. The overall workplace pressure is often less. And, as in the private sector, the "quality" of your coworkers really varies from one group to another - so it's not a given you'll only be working with "mediocre employees".

Re:Maybe (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#44489981)

Working for government agencies is widely reported to be sucky for a variety of reasons: lower pay than the private sector, heavy bureaucracy, political infighting, mediocre employees. It's just unattractive all around.

I'm a state employee (state university), not a federal one. But here's my counterpoint to your (valid) points.

Pay is definitely lower, but the benefits (vacation days, retirement, etc.) are often better.

Those benefits are more from working in academia than for the government; I know, I too used to be a state university employee myself.

My pay sucked back then as well, but I admit it sure was nice having just about every damn holiday under the sun off.

Re:Maybe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44490107)

Pay is definitely lower, but the benefits (vacation days, retirement, etc.) are often better.

Chart and article [motherjones.com] . Facts appear to show the opposite. In addition to getting 16% more pay on average, federal workers also get better benefits as well. Repeating a lie in the news to try and deflect the truth over and over does not make it true.

I understand you are a state employee, and didn't list the state or I would have looked that up as well for you. But you put you comment up as though it is undisputable fact over the entire range of the government. Many state/city workes ALSO are paid higher and with better benefits, especially in larger coastal cities.

The only thing Defcon attendees can agree on... (0)

greg_barton (5551) | about a year ago | (#44489051)

DONGS!

Executive Summary: (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44489225)

Hackers no more or less ethical or principled than other people. Make violating other people's rights interesting or profitable and it will be done.

Getting it wrong the executive way (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44490687)

None of the people there are actually "hackers" in any but the sensationalist "anything possibly vaguely bad involving computers somehow" sense. This is a deep and long-standing problem in the security industry. Actually, it is multiple problems, not least of which is that it impedes innovation and progress in actually securing anything.

As would-be strategists, executives need to understand this. That they don't, well, should've picked better executive summaries to read, eh?

Re:Getting it wrong the executive way (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44491079)

Getting it wrong the Scottish way (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44492545)

Too bad that calling "fallacy" without explaining why this is so is guilty of the very accusation you're making.

The problem to which GP only alluded but which you'll find explained elsewhere in detail, is that "hacking", due to popular over-use, has become so vague as to become meaningless. And these people are very clearly guilty of that. "Hacking" used to mean "being creative with technology", more specifically having people go "I didn't know it could do that!" that is something these people haven't managed in a long time. It's all been ever more minor variations of well-established themes. The first buffer overflow, remote exploit, sql injection, what-have-you, might well have been hacks in above sense. The 9000th, not so much. Worse, this myopic focus on non-structural solutions impedes finding structural solutions to or even structural improvements on the overall problem, that of IT security.

And so, since the problem is real and the moniker is being used to hide that fact, GP is not a denial a la Scotsman, instead the reverse: It is a call to stop calling these tools something they're clearly not, call them what they really are.

Crackers, s'kiddies, criminals, techno-hipsters, charlatans, but not "hackers", since whatever they do, they aren't "hacking". Unless, of course, you subscribe to the notion that "anything potentially vaguely bad involving something computer-y somehow" is what "hacking" should mean. It's what the popular press and the variously hatted bunch claim. It's even what the law says, after all. I for me say vague law is bad law.

Back to you. Show how this assertion is in fact a denial. Please do.

top place for mathematics (1)

KernelMuncher (989766) | about a year ago | (#44489235)

The NSA also does a lot of basic research, especially in mathematics related to code breaking. IIRC it employs more mathematicians as a job title than any other organization in the country. That environment would be ideal to the academically oriented types who just want to ponder number theory all day long.

Sure I'd would work for the NSA (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44489469)

...just long enough.

The hacking conference without hackers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44489483)

asked whether they'd want to work at a government agency without ethics.

Sure, why not.

Re:The hacking conference without hackers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44492663)

They asked me a similar question when I went to work at a law firm. I was like they can represent the devil, and if I still get paid, I don't mind.

Benjamin said... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44489931)

“Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

the people who argue against this or even argue about it are most likely a part of the problems in this world, to those I say..... shut up and stop wasting air and any other planetary resources

Re:Benjamin said... (1)

pspahn (1175617) | about a year ago | (#44490891)

Yeah, but what about streaking? It's basically not allowed, and I'm quite okay with that, since my freedom to streak is certainly less important than my emotional security of not having to see other people streak.

It's such an over-used quote, really. It might have been more apropo when it was coined, but these days "freedom" increasingly means that the neighbors will be allowed to do the same things, and it is not in fact referring to a country suppressed by a foreign state.

Don't you think that Civil Rights activists gave up some of their freedoms to help ensure security down the road? They may not have thought it at the time, but that's what has happened.

This quote is certainly a great one, but I think it might be time that it got updated to more accurately reflect the position of the average citizen in the 21st Century.

Those who surrender their desire for socio-economic freedom in exchange for the security proposed by those in control deserve neither one.

Sure (1)

Roachie (2180772) | about a year ago | (#44490689)

Most people I know crow to the fact that they worked in a secure facility or held a clearance or worked on a weapon at the drop of a hat. Hence most people would jump at the opportunity to work for a governmental TLA.

NSA Already Knows (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44490949)

The NSA already knows all about you and whether you would make a good fit as another corrupt human being and valuable employee. This is just a trap. They want to catch, prosecute and turn the believers of free speech.

Beware of the BOSS (Bush-Obama Surveilance State).

What is the salary? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about a year ago | (#44491287)

If its a good salary, sure.

"There are three sides to every story" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44491357)

"At the end of the day, there is no freedom, anyway," he said. "I need to pay my mortgage, I need to feed my family. Guys living in the bushes might be better off, but is that even freedom? Who knows. Here, have a beer. I'm off."

And that sir,is the truth.

Note there's a good portion of employees from the agency that goto DEFCON (heck I used to go every other year), cause it is one of the places where the creative ideas of intelligence usage occurs and to gauge what makes sense in doing ethical intel work.

Would you subject yourself to radiation for buck$ (1)

Trax3001BBS (2368736) | about a year ago | (#44492177)

I'm sure it's the same everywhere there's a nuclear reactor, it needs to be maintained on a yearly cycle.

In this area a person used to make very good money being used for their exposure. You go
in do a job until you reach your weekly radiation limit (300 mrem / 3 mSv), then do nothing until
you are usable again; for a yearly limit of (3 rad / .03 Sv). At which time your let go as it's
temporary work which your not able to perform any more.

These temporary jobs were during the summer outages and lasted a few months.
with the chance it could become a permanent position, which many did.

Would you work for NSA if the money was very good, as opposed to being used for your exposure at a nuclear
plant that produced Plutonium for intent of blowing people up? If you needed work be it temporary or a job with a substantial
increase in your income, I'm sure a lot would.

would you work for the NSA? (1)

zeroryoko1974 (2634611) | about a year ago | (#44492649)

Well, I would think if they really want you to work for them, they will be pretty convincing that you will want to work for them

I Was Put To The Test (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44493013)

I was contacted by a company that does work for the NSA, did some interviews, and got a written offer for more money than I've ever made in my life (and I'm 50). After a lot of soul searching, I said no and then started regretting it. That was a couple months before all hell broke loose, and now that I see just how unbelievably screwed up all this stuff is, I'm not regretting it in the slightest. Every new revelation - what'd we have.. yesterday's was the unlawful intercepts being handed to the DEA - is just one big facepalm after another.

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