It's Las Vegas hacker convention season: Black Hat kicks off Aug. 2-7, and Def Con runs Aug. 7-10. This time around, National Security Agency leadership will be absent from the speaking rosters, in contrast with previous years.
While the technically sophisticated US surveillance entity has often mingled in recent years with some of the world’s elite engineers and digital security experts at Black Hat and Def Con, Admiral Mike Rogers and Rick Ledgett, the newly minted director and deputy director of the agency, won’t prowl the Mandalay Bay and Rio hotel-casinos this year.
Vanee Vines, a spokeswoman for the NSA who confirmed Rogers and Ledgett’s absences, said she was unaware of any invitations the hacker conferences extended to NSA officials, and did not know if staffers would attend, either.
A spokeswoman for Black Hat, Meredith Corley, said the conference “exists to cultivate conversations among all members of the security community, both public and private. We did not invite Admiral Mike Rogers to [be a] keynote this year.”
US intel will be represented at Black Hat, which begins this Saturday: Dan Geer of In-Q-Tel, the CIA's tech investment arm, is slated to speak. And to expect that the intelligence community won't be present at Def Con or Black Hat in a less visible capacity would be most naive.