Los Angeles Times

Saturday, August 1, 1998

Home Edition

Section: Business

Page: D-1

A Haute Commodity;

Hacking, er, Vulnerability Analysis, Is Big Business;




In the world of computer hacking, DEF CON-an annual two-day fest of beer drinking, tech talk and conspiracy theory-was once the center of it all. Hackers would gather amid the swirling excess of Las Vegas and for $40 revel in a low-budget locale where discussing radio scanners and Windows NT security weaknesses was considered a great way to spend the weekend.


With the tidal flow of dollars-and the development of powerful hacking tools that even a child can use-a subtle pressure has also been exerted on the culture of hacking, drawing off the best of the older generation of hackers into the corporate world and swelling the ranks with hordes of new arrivals sporting DEF CON T-shirts and tattered copies of the hacker magazine 2600.

"Any hacker who learned something either ends up now working for a company or as a consultant," said Christian Valor, a 30-year-old former hacker who now runs a security consulting firm in San Francisco. "It's where all old hackers go to die. We gave up our 2600 T-shirts and don Armani."

se7en does not run a security consulting firm, he has never worked for a consulting firm in the capacity of anything other than a classroom instructor. Over time, he began melding one story into another and portrayed himself as a high end / boutique consultant.

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