Even as it continues its own attacks on rights once secured by the Bill of Rights, our out-of-control golem (look it up) now openly sends agents hacking conferences like Black Hat and DEF CON to recruit hackers.
Feds aren't crashing the parties to infiltrate the hacker population anymore, at least most aren't. They're at these meetings to do some, pardon the pun, networking and to ask for help. And what once was an effort to avoid detention and possible arrest is now a game called "Spot the Fed". Get it right and win a t-shirt that reads, "I spotted the fed!" The fed gets an "I am the fed!" shirt.
Conferences like Black Hat and DEF CON have become fodder for television's "feds as heroes" genre, such as programs like CBS' "Numbers" (no longer in production). But reality, as is often the case, outperforms even factual fiction.
Take hacker Chris Paget. At a cost of only $1,500 in hardware, and with open source software, Paget was able to build a device that tricked cell phones in the vicinity into routing mobile phone calls through it as if it were a legitimate cell phone tower; calls which he was able to intercept and record. Warned he would be violating federal law if did a live demo of how the homemade device worked, Paget saw the warning as a "scare tactic," and went ahead anyway, with no repercussions. After all, the feds could really (yes, really) use something like that; especially when the commercially available version intelligence and law enforcement agencies use, the IMSI catcher, costs of times more.
The dark truth revealed in the government magazine article:
"There's no real difference between the skills needed to be a good defender and a good attacker," says James Lewis, senior fellow and director of the technology and public policy program at CSIS. "Think of it this way: Even though they teach cops how to drive fast, these are law enforcement skills."
NOTE: CSIS is the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
"...a bipartisan Washington, D.C., foreign policy think tank. The center was founded in 1964 by Admiral Arleigh Burke and Ambassador David Manker Abshire, originally as part of Georgetown University. The formal affiliation between Georgetown and CSIS ended on July 1, 1987."
"According to its mission statement, "CSIS provides strategic insights and policy solutions to decision makers in government, international institutions, the private sector, and civil society." The center conducts policy studies and strategic analyses on political, economic and security issues, focusing on technology, public policy, international trade and finance, and energy."
Did I mention that Goldfinger's operatives populate a significant percentage of federal executive departments?