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DEF CON to Host NSA Chief General Alexander - He's Off Limits for 'Spot the Fed'

Black Hat 2012

There will be no ‘I spotted the Fed’ shirts for anyone attempting to single out the NSA’s organizational leader and head of the U.S. Cyber CommandGeneral Keith Alexander – when he arrives at Def Con on Friday.

News of General Alexander’s talk at Def Con broke on Friday. Up until that point, the 12:00 Track 1 slot was kept secret, leaving attendees to the world’s largest hacker conference to speculate. The buzz was that it would be something interesting – if only because this year is Def Con’s 20th anniversary.

“It might have been a little more fun as a complete surprise, but the feline has been released from the satchel,” the conference’s announcement page explains.

DEF CON “[Dark Tangent a.k.a. Jeff Moss] has been working to get a speaker this high-profile from the NSA for quite a long time, and we're excited that he's coming to our 20th anniversary shindig.”

General Alexander will be giving a talk titled "Shared Values, Shared Responsibility," which is outlined as a presentation that will focus on the shared core values between the hacker community and the government’s cyber community. Namely, the vision of the Internet as a positive force, the fact that information increases value by sharing, the respect and protection of privacy and civil liberties, and the opposition to malicious and criminal behavior.

In all, the talk’s overview looks as if General Alexander will attempt to garner some help from the hacker community – not surprising considering that the government has been working to hire legit hackers for years and has done a decent job doing so.

However, the subject of better information sharing between the public sector and the government has been discussed by General Alexander before, but there is hope this talk will be different. He has an audience is that is both engaging, and willing to listen – even if they do not agree. If the talk is recycled, it would be a missed opportunity.

SecurityWeek will be at Def Con this year, adding to our extensive Black Hat coverage. One of the talks we are planning to see is General Alexander’s. If nothing else, he’s an engaging speaker, so if you haven’t seen him give an address – it’s worth the 50 minutes of your time to do so.

General Alexander will, as mentioned, speak during Track 1 on Friday at noon. Def Con runs July 26-29 at the Rio in Las Vegas, admission is $200 cash only at the door.

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Steve Ragan is a security reporter and contributor for SecurityWeek. Prior to joining the journalism world in 2005, he spent 15 years as a freelance IT contractor focused on endpoint security and security training.