Speakers quit RSA conference in NSA protest

Speakers quit RSA conference in NSA protest

Summary: At least eight security researchers or policy experts have withdrawn from a US internet security conference in protest over the sponsor's alleged collaboration with the National Security Agency.

TOPICS: Security, EMC

With reports last month that RSA Security worked with the NSA under a $10 million contract to weaken internet security, a number of speakers have withdrawn from the company's annual security conference due to be held next month.

RSA Security, owned by data storage giant EMC, has disputed claims that it intentionally introduced the flawed encryption algorithm, but otherwise has declined to discuss the media report.

The revelation supplemented documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden showing that the NSA had tried to weaken internet encryption.

The withdrawals from the highly regarded conference represent early blowback by experts who have complained that the government's surveillance efforts have, in some cases, weakened computer security, even for innocent users.

Some US companies that have agreed or been compelled to turn over customer records to the government have complained that their business relationships with customers in Europe, Asia, and elsewhere are increasingly becoming arduous.

It was not immediately clear whether any researchers who still intended to make presentations at the conference would discuss the subject.

Hugh Thompson, a conference organiser who works for security firm Blue Coat Systems, said the event is "an open venue where people can talk openly about security".

The researchers and experts who have pulled out include Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer of Finland-based antivirus provider F-Secure, and Adam Langley and Chris Palmer, who work on security practices at Google.

Christopher Soghoian, a researcher with the American Civil Liberties Union, said on Tuesday on Twitter that he withdrew from the conference after having "given up waiting for RSA to 'fess up to the truth" regarding its development of the Dual-EC-DRBG algorithm with the NSA.

Organisers have said that next month's conference in San Francisco will host 560 speakers, and that they expect more participants than the 24,000 who showed up last year.

Topics: Security, EMC

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  • Doesnt surprise me

    ofcourse they would quit. How would you feel to know that you work all day on encryption while others work at making it flawed for corrupt government purposes and then the backdoorable alogrithms are released publically? Why would you want to go speak when you know you are representing a entity which does not care about that for which you stand?
    • You never know who you can trust

      It's worse when it's RSA, as they previously made themselves out to be a group you could trust. Now we know the truth, thanks to Edward Snowden.

      Well, I hope the RSA is happy with its NSA partnership or marriage. May the two of them live happily ever after together in each other's embrace.
      • "experts say no to the US gov! USgovNO!

        "experts say no to the US gov" USgovNO!

        please, if you are an expert, DONT work for the pure evil. deny any project connected with the fascists called US government:

        The US government conducts a surveillance of all the US citizens, EU officials (Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff etc.) and all the people in the world to keep power. The reason can not be terrorism. Or are the chancellor of Germany and the brazilian President terrorists?

        CIA documents acknowledge its role in Iran's 1953 coup (all just for oil), documents also admits changing US public opinions.

        You can be KILLED or you can LOSE all your rights (indefinite detention) when the USA says you are just an abettor of terrorism (just striking? who knows?), Washingtonpost: "10 reasons the U.S. is no longer the land of the free".

        The US government murdered not just 4487 US soldiers and 179 UK soldiers through the lies about mass destruction weapons existence in Iraq.

        thank you for understanding, you can make good money in a different way, dont be part of the evil world
        Jiří Pavelec
  • Its Government

    I applaud these individuals. The government has forgotten its place and needs correction. The NSA is taking the typical position of all government activities. Forget about addressing the problem people, attack everyone. Take guns away from everyone, force everyone into health insurance of their making, spy on everyone. The right way is take guns away from those who are dangerous, provide insurance for those who don't have it and spy on the terrorists. But our idiots in charge can't manage any of that. And besides...why just solve the problem when you can grow your control and power while funding it with other people's money?
    Developing Clouds
  • I'm sure there will be an alternative

    Phil Zimmerman copped so much flack for getting his own product, PGP, out of the u.s., that I'm sure others with enough smarts will come up with a modern-day internationally free version that is deliberately designed to frustrate bodies such as the nsa.

    Any "government" is there to SERVE the needs of its people.

    Don't delude yourself that the digital encryption on mobile phones is secure. Digital mobiles were not allowed onto the Australian market until ASIO could read them without difficulty.

    I see a future where accessing any website will involve dual-key encryption with ridiculously (to us) long keys that should mean even our shopping lists will remain "unbreakable" until, at least, the next major evolution in computing power.

    Those who want to control us can already see this. Why do you think there are so many efforts to limit internet access and information distribution?

    Snowden revealed nothing new. He only confirmed what was already suspected.