In 2003, Ira Winkler was on a panel titled "Foxes in the Hen House" at the RSA Conference. During the conference, Winkler said he would never hire hackers with a record. Despite saying this, by the time of the panel Winkler had personally hired at least two employees with a 'hacker' background and a criminal record.
During this panel, ex-hacker Kevin Mitnick confronted Winkler on the issue.:
It's an explosive subject in the industry, and sparks fly as Mitnick takes on other panelists, including Ira Winkler, chief security strategist at Hewlett-Packard Co. After Winkler warns against hiring ex-hackers, Mitnick mocks him, claiming Winkler himself once hired ex-hackers to work at a consulting company he owned. "I know them personally," Mitnick says acidly. "I had traded [break-in secrets] with them."
According to a fairly reliable source, not only had Winkler hired ex-hackers, he had hired at least one employee with a criminal history involving felony convictions for sexual crimes against children.