By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer
Every year, thousands of computer hackers meet in large conventions like Black Hat and DEF CON, where they can show off their skills. Just last year, a member demonstrated how he was able to break into WalMart’s computer system in less than 20 minutes! If this sounds illegal, that’s because it is. Still, big companies like to recruit many hackers to work for them so they can improve anything that is weak in their computer system. They’re not the only ones either.
Even the US intelligence community asks hackers to test their tech for any flaws, and the DEF CON community usually welcomes them. That was not the case this past week at the Vegas conventions, however. Several hackers were upset with the government over the NSA surveillance leaks, which showed that the government had access to personal information like phone conversations and internet history. When General Keith Alexander spoke at the Black Hat conference last week, his defense of the government’s actions did not go over well, prompting some in the audience to criticize him loudly.
Alex Stamos, a widely respected security researcher who used to work with the NSA and spoke at both Black Hat and DEF CON, doesn’t feel like he can trust the government anymore either. He said, “We’ve gone backwards about 10 years in the relations between the good guys and the US government.”