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China Government Security

Bill Blunden's Rejected DEF CON Presentation Posted Online 40

Posted by timothy
from the what-I-was-going-to-say dept.
Nicola Hahn (1482985) writes "Though the Review Board at DEF CON squelched Bill Blunden's presentation on Chinese cyber-espionage, and the U.S. government has considered imposing visa restrictions to keep out Chinese nationals, Bill has decided to post both the presentation's slide deck and its transcript online. The talk focuses on Mike Rogers, in all his glory, a former FBI agent who delivers a veritable litany of hyperbolic misstatements (likely to be repeated endlessly on AM radio). Rather than allow the DEFCON Review Board to pass judgement as supposed .gov 'experts,' why not allow people to peruse the material and decide for themselves who is credible and who is not?" "Squelched" seems a little harsh (only so many talks can fit, and there's no accounting for taste), but it's certainly good to see any non-accepted DEF CON presentations made public.
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Bill Blunden's Rejected DEF CON Presentation Posted Online

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  • Actually RTFA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bradorsomething (527297) on Tuesday June 03, 2014 @09:56AM (#47155321)
    This is a conjecture talk, I can see why they rejected it. Bill, if you happen to read this comment, I think your talk was refused because it uses a lot of "could" and "might" to build a global picture of corruption, landed back in the banking system and corrupt government, failed to point out any non-obvious outcomes or opportunities, and didn't suggest any ways an attendee could constructively effect or participate in the problem. Generally you can expect DEFCON talks to be based on hard facts, with bonus points when it teaches you something or shows you a technique or process you can apply later.

    The book plug at the end also seems like a split purpose for making the talk.
    • Re:Actually RTFA (Score:4, Informative)

      by Sarten-X (1102295) on Tuesday June 03, 2014 @09:58AM (#47155345) Homepage

      This is a conjecture talk ... it uses a lot of "could" and "might" to build a global picture of corruption, landed back in the banking system and corrupt government, failed to point out any non-obvious outcomes or opportunities, and didn't suggest any ways an attendee could constructively effect or participate in the problem.

      ...so in other words, it's perfect for Slashdot.

    • What you're saying may be true in regard to it being accepted to DefCon, but on the whole his analysis sounds about right. I don't know if civilians have the information to prove what he says, one way or another, but the economic motivations sure line up nicely.

    • by Minupla (62455)

      Agreed, as a DC attendee I'd give it a miss, and if there wasn't anything on that was more interesting in the slot use it to fulfill some of the 3-2-1 rule of attending Defcon. The talk is an interesting read, and there are other confs I've attended where it would be a fit, but DC isn't it.

      I think the review committee made the right call on this one.

      Min

    • This is a conjecture talk, I can see why they rejected it. Bill, if you happen to read this comment, I think your talk was refused because it uses a lot of "could" and "might" to build a global picture of corruption, landed back in the banking system and corrupt government, failed to point out any non-obvious outcomes or opportunities, and didn't suggest any ways an attendee could constructively effect or participate in the problem. .

      He starts off good and makes quite a few good points, nothing terribly new or exciting but valid points still. But then about 3/4 of the way through he goes off the rails and starts ranting about corrupt banks and ends up sounding like just another crackpot.

      • by tnk1 (899206)

        This. He takes one person't inflated statement about hacking being the biggest economic issue out there and instead of stating matter of factly that the banking crisis probably flushed more money, he went off on a rant. If he'd have kept it to one slide, he could have probably garnered a better response with that one slide showing a pie chart or a bar graph showing the vast difference between the monetary losses, stayed silent a moment, and then given the crowd a significant look and moved on. Everyone w

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Sorry, but I have to agree that this was rightly rejected (even if the stated reason seems odd to me). Allow me to explain:

    In short, what he has done is show a lot of circumstantial evidence that suggests it's possible that Chinese hacking is being done by either foreigners in China, or by non government criminals.

    The problem is that on the other side are some very concrete accusations. Mandiant traced the attacks in their APT1 report back to the very building belonging to a specific unit. The USA Govt.

  • call me paranoid but this talk had the potential to piss on quite a number of parades. Bill essentailly confirms that china is at worst a lawless tech threat, and at best a moneyhole into which the government forks cash to various 'cyber' threat mitigation projects shuffled along by government contractors and agencies in search of stable budgets. bills correct: once you preface any attack with "cyber" then tricky things like investigations, justifications, risk assessments and the like all sublimate into
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The presentation is a bunch of conspiracy theory bullshit, chock full of pedantic analysis of out-of-context quotes from politicians and various other talking heads. There's no data, facts, or real references. It obviously should have been rejected.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    The submission simply would not have made it to the front page of this site unless "squelched" (or some similar word like "silenced" or "censored") was used.
    • by databeast (19718)

      exactly, this was just rejected.

      not like he couldn't still submit it to Skytalks, we don't record those talks either, so he's got a lot more scope to speak off the record there too.

  • This talk reads like the tech equivalent of airplane contrails. It's a bunch of loose conjectures strung together from headlines and some casual Google searches. As a tech, I would have liked to have seen more technical meat pointing to more than maybe, possibly, could be. It sounds like he submitted a pretty crappy talk, and is going to try and milk his rejection to pimp his book. I think there are valid questions to be asked. Mandiant, for example, has profited mightily from the business thrown at it fro
    • by databeast (19718)

      yeah, I got the same feeling too, the meat of the presentation seems to be stuff that those of us that do this for a living have know for years (there is no head of the dragon, but there are a lot of snakes out there). Kudos to someone standing against the warhawk cyberwar types, but the whole preso, while interesting, seemed more like a book pimping session, wrapped up in a lot of pandering to people's existing knowledge.

      • Yes, exactly. I'd be more interested to see someone try and go at some of the hard analysis that Mandiant etc have published. That would make for an interesting talk.
        • by databeast (19718)

          speaking from experience, it comes down to this. the people with a critical eye to all this stuff (like me) don't have access to the big picture. I can only speak to the stuff I've worked on personally, and it doesn't add to what people are telling us.

          Conversely, the people who *do* have access to the bigger picture stuff, have no vested interest in giving us the unfiltered truth (or any truth at all), so although they're in a position to know that's actually happening a little more clearly, we have no reas

          • Yes, it's pretty unfortunate. I hope that they'll come to realize that they need more than conjecture. That goes for anyone, be it Mandiant, the US or other governments, etc. I'd much rather this be about real data, not just opinions and innuendo. There's certainly a lot of bad traffic that comes from China, but the same is true of other countries. Show us why, don't just tell us, it is (or isn't) government sponsored, and why that's important so I can make the right security recommendations to protec
          • by Lost Race (681080)

            Conversely, the people who *do* have access to the bigger picture stuff, have no vested interest in giving us the unfiltered truth (or any truth at all),

            Of course not. If we knew everything they know, then they wouldn't be special any more.

  • Seriously, that's Death by PowerPoint!
  • I just had a look at the 94 slides. The content is interesting, and contrary to what was said, it is quite well sourced.

    That presentation dismiss China spying being led by the government, then notes that damage claims on US economy are crazily high and not well backed. The last part of the presentation deals with US spying, how it got out of US People control, and how banks also ran out of US People control.

    IMO this was turned down because it criticize the US political system. No patriot enough, or not patr

    • by databeast (19718)

      ...or it was turned down because other people submitted better, more technical, talks, that included actual data and demonstrations
      (All three of which are what the Defcon CFP team actually look for in a talk, if you want to know how their minds work)

Recent research has tended to show that the Abominable No-Man is being replaced by the Prohibitive Procrastinator. -- C.N. Parkinson

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