Speakers skip security company’s conference after it lays down with NSA

Giuseppe Macri Tech Editor
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Numerous speakers scheduled to talk at computer security company RSA’s 2014 conference are dropping out of the event after it was revealed last month that RSA accepted millions to give the National Security Agency backdoor access to its software.

Numerous high-profile speakers in the computer security research and development field have publicly cancelled their speaking event at RSA’s annual conference, due to be held next month, with some publicly acknowledging the NSA revelations as the reason.

“I can’t imagine a worse action, short of a company’s CEO getting involved in child porn,” espionage and cyber warfare analyst Jeffrey Carr told CNET. “I don’t know what worse action a security company could take than to sell a product to a customer with a backdoor in it.”

Carr gave RSA weeks to address the public allegations that the security company accepted $10 million from the signals intelligence agency to give it backdoor access to the cryptographic software it sells to consumers. When RSA failed to open up about the NSA deal, Carr called for a public boycott of the company.

“When you look back at incidents that changed institutions of power, they weren’t changed by hacking from the inside,” Carr told CNET. “The only way you change a company, you force the board of directors, by hitting their profits.”

Other cancelled speakers and boycotters include Josh Thomas from security firm Atredis, F-Secure’s Mikko Hypponen, Google security’s Adam Langley, Google Chrome security engineer Chris Palmer, Mozilla policy expert Alex Fowler, ACLU privacy advocate Christopher Soghoian, and privacy lawyer Marcia Hoffman.

RSA will host its conference this year at the Moscone Center in San Francisco on February 28.

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Giuseppe Macri