RSA protests by DEF CON groups, Code Pink draw ire

Security conference in San Francisco meets with a wide range of protests by security professionals.

The RSA conference kicked off this week in San Francisco. ZDNet

The RSA security conference (where the world's security companies come to do business with each other), opened its doors this week in San Francisco to a wide range of protests by security professionals who would otherwise be attending and speaking at the conference.

The protests might be called "obnoxious," "pointless" and "first world outrage " -- but the protesters affiliated with hacker conference DEF CON, organization Code Pink, and sold-out opposition conference "TrustyCon" are getting everyone's attention this week.

Wednesday's protest by two noted DEF CON -affiliated organizations (Vegas 2.0 and DC408) have bought out the entire nearby Chevy's restaurant and are turning away RSA attendees and speakers -- notably in the past hour, a visibly irritated Kevin Mitnick.

At the heart of the conflict are the weighty allegations that RSA deliberately weakened encryption standards in a contract with the U.S. National Security Agency to provide the government agency "back door" access.

In December 2013, Reuters reported,

As a key part of a campaign to embed encryption software that it could crack into widely used computer products, the U.S. National Security Agency arranged a secret $10 million contract with RSA, one of the most influential firms in the computer security industry, Reuters has learned.

One of the security professionals staffing today's protest at Chevy's wrote in a blog post, "Our privacy was sold out for less than the cost of most luxury homes."

RSA issued a statement denying the allegations.

Robert Imhoff, Co-Founder Vegas 2.0 and Chevy's protest lead told ZDNet today,

RSA could begin to fix this by going on the record with a detailed response about the accusations.

Instead, they've pulled an Edward Bernays and haven't answered the questions directly, leading many in the community to wonder what other shenanigans they have going on.

It's time for RSA to come clean.

On Tuesday, Code Pink unfurled a hot pink "RSA

The act was short-lived: protesters were escorted off the grounds and their banner removed quickly.

Most RSA attendees and speakers are headed to Chevy's today for an inexpensive, quiet, sit-down meal.

When they walk up they're greeted by lab-coat wearing "Vegas 2.0" members (a decade-old independent hacker group that runs DEF CON's largest fundraiser for the EFF), and a discussion about RSA's relationship with the NSA begins.

This Chevy's is one of the few "reasonably priced" food options next to the RSA Conference.

This will make it so only "Explorer Pass", BsidesSF and TrustyCon attendees get exclusive use of this venue during peak of the Vendor Expo portion of RSA Conference.

RSA attendees refused entry to Chevy's restaurant. ZDNet
RSA attendees with red badges -- paying attendees and speakers -- are refused entry, and the protesters are handing out flyers explaining the protest's intent to raise awareness about allegations against the RSA, and RSA's inaction, all seen as a breach of trust that is clearly splintering the wider security community.

RSA protest material. ZDNet

Thursday's opposition conference "Trustycon" (Trusted Computing Conference), held at the Metreon, around the corner from RSA, has sold out and is currently holding a wait list of 300.

Trustycon is featuring thirteen speakers who withdrew their scheduled RSA talks in anger over the RSA allegations. Noted speakers include Mikko Hypponen, Marcia Hoffmann, Adam Langley, Mozilla's Alex Fowler, Christopher Soghoian, Jim Manico (OWASP Global Board Member), and other notable figures from the security industry.

This story originally appeared as "'Obnoxious' RSA protests by DEF CON organizations, Code Pink draw ire " on ZDNet.

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About the author

Violet Blue is a Forbes Web Celeb, CBSi/ZDNet blogger and columnist, a high-profile tech personality and one of Wired's Faces of Innovation. She is an expert in the field of sex and technology, a sex-positive mainstream media pundit (MacLife, CNN, The Oprah Winfrey Show) and has been interviewed, quoted and featured in outlets ranging from ABC News to the Wall Street Journal. A feature writer and columnist since 1998, Violet has authored and edited many award-winning, best selling books in six translations; a book sample can be found on Oprah.com. She was a notorious sex columnist for Hearst's San Francisco Chronicle, and Forbes calls her "omnipresent on the web." She headlines at global conferences including ETech, LeWeb, SXSW: Interactive and two Google Tech Talks at Google, Inc. and received a standing ovation at Seattle's Gnomedex. The London Times named Blue "one of the 40 bloggers who really count." She is a member of the CNET Blog Network, and is not an employee of CNET.

 

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