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article imageAmericans may block Chinese hackers from entering the U.S.

By Ken Hanly     May 24, 2014 in Politics
Washington - The U.S. is considering using visa restrictions to block Chinese nationals form attending two popular hacking conferences in August in the U.S. according to a senior U.S. official.
This new move occurs as this week the US has charged five Chinese military officers who are alleged to have hacked into US nuclear, metal, and solar corporations in order to obtain trade secrets. The Chinese government denies the charges and claims the charges will damage trust between the two nations.
Organizers of the two conferences said that limiting Chinese participation was a bad idea. Jeff Moss founder of both the Def Con and Black Hat conferences said in a Twitter post: "First I have heard of it, boarding flight to DC now. I don't think it helps build positive community. More later," Chris Wysopal, who is a member of the board that reviews Black Hat presentations said that restricting access would have mostly symbolic impact as all the talks are videotaped and sold.
However, the Black Hat website lists several speakers who could be Chinese nationals. One is an employee of the Chinese security software maker Quihoo 360 who is to give a talk on vulnerabilities in font scalers. Two researchers from the Chinese University of Hong Kong are also to talk on hacking social networks. Def Con did not have any Chinese nationals slated as speakers this year. The organizers only accept cash, do not ask IDs, and badges are without names. It might be a problem for the government to stop people from attending.
Dmitri Alperovitch, who is chief technology officer at Crowdstrike a cybersecurity corporation applauded the tougher US stance against Chinese hacking but said that banning the Chinese nationals from the conference could be counter-productive since it could prevent the government from "arresting known hackers, or recruiting them for US work." The Wall Street Journal also reports that other US options in response to alleged Chinese hacking includes releasing more evidence of how the Chinese hackers conducted their operation and also imposing business and financial restrictions on the individuals indicted and even those organizations associated with them.
Last year the Def Con convention that draws more than 15,000 hackers every year including researchers, corporate security experts and others asked US officials to stay away after the revelations of Edward Snowden about the extensive surveillance by NSA. US officials usually attend in significant numbers. The Black Hat conference runs from August 6-7 and the Def Con from August 7-10. In other related news, 10 to 12 Chinese citizens were unexpectedly refused visas just last week to attend a cyber conference hosted by the Space Foundation in Colorado to be held this week. Speakers at that conference included James Clapper, the director of US National Intelligence, along with other high ranking officials of intelligence agencies.
More about Def Con, Black Hat conference, US China relations, cyber spying
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