Black Hat USA 2014: Policy MattersBlack Hat isn't just hacking and exploits, though that's certainly high on our agenda. Today's trio of Black Hat USA 2014 Briefings center on politics -- big-picture stuff like the real-world effects of the NSA's surveillance, the legal risks facing security researchers, and the freedom of the Internet itself.
The ultra-secretive NSA probably never imagined it'd become the unwitting star of a news media circus, but here we are. It seems new revelations roll out every week, with the NSA monitoring our phone calls, emails, Quake server logs, and (we have a hunch) sock drawers. It's almost numbing. "Nobody Is Listening to Your Phone Calls." Really? A Debate and Discussion on the NSA's Activities should help tease the signal from the noise, with former House Intelligence Committee staff director and current Beacon Global Strategies managing director Michael Allen debating and discussing the issues with Mark Jaycox, a legislative analyst with the Electronic Frontier Foundation who specializes in privacy and surveillance law. Come to hear the pros, hear the cons, and then weigh in yourself.
Imagine if, soon after movable type was invented, a small group gained control over what speech others could publish. Would books still have flourished? If people lost trust in the underlying communication medium, could there even have been a Renaissance or Enlightenment? But that is the dilemma the Internet faces today, under attack from data breaches, theft of commercial secrets, the opportunity for widespread, disruptive attacks and systemic failures, erection of sovereign borders, and mass surveillance. In Saving Cyberspace, Jason Healey will explore a defensive strategy that, with patience and foresight, could give the open Internet's defenders the advantage. He will also discuss sidestepping much of the current unproductive debate over privacy versus security.
Computer security work carries real legal risks, with people like Dmitry Skylarov and more recently Aaron Swartz and Weev serving as cautionary examples. In The Big Chill: Legal Landmines That Stifle Security Research and How to Disarm Them, two veteran digital rights lawyers and the lead strategist of a major security firm will use a game show format to share examples of legally risky research and ask: "Computer crime or legitimate research?" Their ultimate destination? Gaming up some legislative ideas that could provide a sensible security research exception to laws like the Wiretap Act, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
Regular registration ends on July 26. Please visit Black Hat USA 2014's registration page to get started.