Help Us, Hackers, You’re Our Only Hope, NSA Chief Tells DefCon

Let's hope he wasn't carrying anything unsecured on his Blackberry.

General Alexander. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Last week, hackers from around the world gathered in Las Vegas, Nevada, for the annual DefCon conference. It is the kind of event where attendees are advised to avoid hotel ATMs, and it is not somewhere you’d want to go with any top-secret electronic devices. Infoworld reports that, on Friday, into this lion’s den strode National Security Agency Director General Keith B. Alexander, who appeared before the Sin City summit to solicit attendees’ assistance.

The general’s appearance was far from the norm. DefCon founder Jeff Moss introduced him by revealing he’s been trying for 20 years to rope someone from the NSA brass to speak at conference. Once it got underway, the long-overdue keynote was devoted to asking hackers not just for help educating the populace on cyber security, but also requesting information sharing. If hackers hear an attack is coming, the NSA would really appreciate a heads up.

Involved was a bit of flattery:

“This is the world’s best cyber security community,” said Gen. Alexander, who also heads the U.S. cyber Command. “In this room right here is the talent our nation needs to secure cyber space.”

As well as an appeal to principles:

“You know that we can protect networks and have civil liberties and privacy; and you can help us get there.”

And then a little bit more flattery:

“Sometimes you guys get a bad rap,” he said. “From my perspective, what you’re doing to figure out vulnerabilities in our systems is great. We have to discover and fix those. You guys hold the line,” he said.

And finally just some outright sucking up:

“That’s the real reason why I came here. To solicit your support,” he said. “You have the talent. You have the expertise.”

Oh and by the way: No sooner had DefCon wrapped up than South Korean telecom KT Corp. was offering up apologies to the 8.7 million subscribers who’ve just had their information compromised. No wonder the NSA is laying it on so thick.

Help Us, Hackers, You’re Our Only Hope, NSA Chief Tells DefCon