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Convention hackers told to keep it conventional

TEXT OF STORY

Bill Radke: This is computer hackers' week in Las Vegas. The city is hosting two hacker conventions. The Black Hat conference started yesterday; that one caters to corporations trying to protect their networks. The more unruly DefCon gathering happens this weekend. Marketplace's Jeff Tyler tells us some convention speakers have been pressured to keep quiet.


Jeff Tyler: Hackers are folks who crack computer security systems for fun or profit. But they can also fix problems.

Dan Kaminsky: You need hackers to fight hackers like you need soldiers to fight soldiers.

That's Dan Kaminsky, chief scientist at Recursion Ventures, which focuses on computer security. He'll speak at the conference about new methods he's developed for blocking cyber attacks.

Kaminsky: It is going to make for a much safer Internet.

But some researchers have been encouraged not to speak. A Taiwanese expert had planned to address Internet hacking supposedly done by the government of China. That's been canceled to avoid offending leaders in Beijing. Kaminsky says others may also feel pressure to keep security secrets private.

Kaminsky: There may be pressure, but the reality is if we don't talk about how things actually fail, all of our advice is going to be worthless.

There's plenty of demand to see how security systems fail. Attendance at the Black Hat conference is up 35 percent this year.

I'm Jeff Tyler for Marketplace.

About the author

Jeff Tyler is a reporter for Marketplace’s Los Angeles bureau, where he reports on issues related to immigration and Latin America.

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