U.S. government officials are considering to prevent Chinese nationals from attending hacking and IT security conferences by denying visas. The ideas is „to curb Chinese cyber espionage“. While this initiative has been widely criticised and the measure is very easy to circumvent, it doesn’t come as a surprise. Recent years have shown that hacking has become more and more political. This aspect was already explored in the keynote of DeepSec 2012. So what is the real problem?
Espionage, be it „cyber“ or not, revolves around information. This is exactly why we have a problem with the word „cyber“. Methods of transporting information have been around for a long time. Guglielmo Marconi and Heinrich Hertz raised problems for information security long before the Internet did. The only difference is the ease of setting up Internet connectivity compared to wireless transmissions (if you discount Wi-Fi networks). Technology crosses borders ever since the first wireless transmission. Networked drones, the Internet of Things, and other developments are just the extension of technological concepts. Moreover the concept of IT security is a team effort. No country, no business, no organisation, and no hacker group by itself can implement a „fail-safe“ security concept. Being part of the Internet means to be connected to the weakest link, like it or not. End points with full-disk encryption and the latest VPN setup compromised by malicious software are the perfect example. If firewalls can’t do perimeter protection on their own, so do blocked visa requests.
DeepSec has maintained its neutral stance throughout the years. IT security needs places where every group can talk freely to other groups (or individuals). DeepSec still is the conference to go where security professionals from academics, government, industry, and the (underground) hacking community can have a chat. The Call for Papers titled „The Power of Knowledge“ stresses this. If you have content illustrating the role of cooperation in IT security, then we are very keen to hear from you!