DEF CON 19 and NSA recruiting hackers

On August 4th 2011, D.J. Pangburn‘s An Open Letter to Defcon Hackers: Don’t Sell Out to the NSA turned up. Later that day, Bill Brenner wrote Hackers selling out by working for NSA? I’m not convinced. Here’s what John Young thinks of Brenner’s piece (cited from e-mail w/permission):

Completely idiotic article, quite deceptive. It omits the lifetime 
secrecy agreements required for NSA employees and that any
whistleblowers are prosecuted if they reveal anything really
secret. There are hundreds of court cases showing what NSA
does to anyone who tries to leave or tells what goes on inside
the Agency.

One does not leave NSA as if the military, one does not leave
without agreeing to never tell what goes on inside. That is a
solemn contract agreed to before entry and an even more
serious sterilization undergone if one insists on resigning.
Severe criminal penalities are described in great detail and
you sign that you understand them without reservation.

And you are forever watched to assure you don't do what
the silly author says you can do to bring about change. He is
a lying son of a bitch, either through unwitting ignorance or
through witting deliberate misrepresentation.

These conditions apply to all secrecy organizations. The
periodic disclosures by ex-members are not to be believed,
they make the not terribly revealing disclosures as a
continuing part of their job through whistleblowing, novels,
movies, confessions, and the like.

You cannot escape, this is what was taught in the ancient
days of one-way-in, no-way-out secret societies and remains
true today. Recruiters are devious as they must be or nobody
would join the secretkeepers if they knew the truth of what was
in store for them to give up control of their lives and minds
forever, and remain compelled to lie, lie and lie some more,
and, to be sure, recruit noobs by writing noobish nonsense.


Now, how is one to decide where to draw the line between realistic concern and paranoia?

4 thoughts on “DEF CON 19 and NSA recruiting hackers

  1. @geradin Thanks for commenting! But NSA is limited too, and (IMHO) it’s unreasonable to assume they’re omnipotent – although their targets might better err on the safe side 🙂

    I’d say that if indeed seeking to recruit 1,500 hacking-skilled types, NSA either lacks capacity or seeks to remove potential threats in a “if you can’t beat them, employ them” strategy…

  2. You’re right, they’re not ominpotent. Probably not nearly as powerful as some people fear. But they appear to have a lot more power than they should.

    You’re even more right on the second point. In fact, I tend to think it’s a combination of the two. The last year or so it’s become obvious that other governments (especially China) are engaging us in cyberspace. in the past I think there has been an all too typical “we’re America, we’re the best” mindset, maybe unconscious, that has kept us complacent to the building threats, and the NSA and other agencies have realized that their current efforts are overshadowed by their counterparts elsewhere.

  3. “I’d say that if indeed seeking to recruit 1,500 hacking-skilled types, NSA either lacks capacity or seeks to remove potential threats in a “if you can’t beat them, employ them” strategy… ” ….. mrkoot said… August 5, 2011 8:55 AM

    Hoitjes, mrkoot,

    You may like to consider that NSA lacks the ability/does not have the necessary intelligence and specific, particular and peculiar intellectual property to counter potential cyber threats, which are of course, both in essence and substance, nothing more than shared ethereal and, in zeroday vulnerability attack vectors, as fleeting as ephemeral virtual notions for activation and/or self-actualisation and deep embed into the human psyche for a remote virtual machine controlled, hearts and minds manipulation/reprogramming, and most certainly it is unlikely that removal of them [potential risks] is possible.

    Indeed, the probability is that potential risks because of the above irregular and unconventional cyberfare, will increase quite markedly and remarkably [at an exponential rather than linear pace] to completely overwhelm current containment and prevention strategies against catastrophic exploitation of vulnerable systems, which are all necessarily linked at some point to the Global Information Grid and are clones of the SCADA model.

    Do you think that the likes of an NSA can match the likes of a private or banking sector “employer”, who realising the lead and hold which cyber expertise so immediately delivers with command and control and change in the “real” world, is happily prepared and able to offer whatever it takes to star pirate performers/virtual non-state actors/private anonymous legionnaires, for that is what will invariably be the competition and/or opposition, should the persons of interest not be of much higher levels of intelligence/niveaux and fully mindful of the easy power freely available to them for wielding/fielding/exercising. If so, then would the likes of an NSA be in a very strong position. Indeed, it may be practically unassailable and only able to be matched and reinforced by something very similar.

    Although that is not to say that such vulgar attractions as would tempt lower and lesser forms of intelligence and being, would not also be a pleasant enough reward and equally attractive to the others, allowing as it would for the sharing of enjoyment and selfless enrichment of true friends and worthy individuals.

    Oh, and it is as well to imagine and realise that presently would all national security agencies, and the AIVD/MIVD are no exception, lack capacity and have no other really viable alternative other than to seek to remove potential threats in a “if you can’t beat them, employ them” strategy.

    However, employ the right stars, and universal control is virtually guaranteed for digital delivery via binary means and AIMemes.

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