updated 03:51 pm EDT, Mon May 26, 2014
Denying visas to possible attendees considered over Chinese hacking indictment
Members of the US government are considering issuing visa restrictions on Chinese nationals seeking to attend DefCon and Black Hat. The effort would be aimed at computer hackers coming to the Las Vegas conferences from China in order to keep them from attending. These efforts would be "part of a broader effort to curb Chinese cyber espionage," an official told Reuters.
The step to limit visas is just one path the government may take, reports the Wall Street Journal as it looks to put pressure on China after the indictment of five Chinese military officers. The officers were accused by the Department of Justice of stealing trade secrets from several companies in the United States after hacking into them. China quickly issued a strongly-worded denial of the charges against the officers.
"We've tried to have a constructive dialogue. The State Department and the Defense Department have traveled to China to share evidence of hacking by the (People's Liberation Army), but those types of interchanges have not sparked a lot of progress or reciprocity," said an unnamed US government official.
According to the report, further actions could include releasing evidence on the hacking operations and business and financial restrictions on the indicted parties and those associated with them. Other moves could see some of the hacked companies purposely feeding bad information.
Organizers for the events weren't aware of the government actions to block access, but thought that the actions would likely not amount to much. Black Hat board member Chris Wysopal pointed out that media on the talks from the conference would be available afterward for those not in attendance. Founder Jeff Moss commented on Twitter that it was the first he heard of the situation, but didn't think it would help build "a positive community."
Between 10 and 12 Chinese citizens set to attend a space and cyber conference in Colorado were recently denied visas according to the event organizers, the Space Foundation. However, it is unclear if this series of denials is tied to the hacking indictments.