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Spooks in the Booth

You never know who you'll see at Interop Las Vegas - even a certain spy agency

9:05 AM -- Here's one exhibitor you probably missed at Interop Las Vegas but wished you hadn't: The NSA was here, tucked away in a modest booth of its own at the back of the exhibit hall.

Some reactions from surprised attendees who stopped by the National Security Agency's booth: "Is this really the NSA?" "Wow...it is you." And mine: "So what are you doing here?"

The NSA was on a mission here at its first Interop Las Vegas appearance to promote and alert technology vendors as well as businesses and other organizations about its Information Assurance Directorate (IAD) program. IAD is all about helping vendors build secure products and helping agencies and businesses adopt the safest ones. It's a national security thing.

One of the two NSA guys manning the booth, a vulnerability analyst who asked me not to publish his name, says the IAD's mission is to help promote security awareness as well as the NSA's cryptography suite, PKI adoption, and help with product security evaluations. That includes the adoption of the Common Criteria specifications by vendors who want to sell to the Defense Department. "We're here to help," he says.

They were handing out a brochure that said, in part: "Partner with the top vulnerability analysts in the world today" and "with so many vendors who offer so many products that counter so many threats -- it's enough to make your head spin. We hear you. And we want to talk to you about it."

So if you can get past the obvious wiretapping and spy jokes, just imagine having the NSA help you secure your network, or help you choose a security product.

Spooky? A little. But who better to help.

— Kelly Jackson Higgins, Senior Editor, Dark Reading

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