US may block visas for Chinese hackers attending DefCon, Black Hat

On Saturday, an unnamed “senior administration official” told Reuters that the US government is considering using visa restrictions to keep Chinese hackers from attending DefCon and Black Hat, two major hacking conferences that take place in August in Las Vegas.

The move would be “part of a broad effort to curb Chinese cyber espionage,” Reuters reported. The news comes after five members of the Chinese military were indicted by the US on Monday for allegedly hacking into US companies and stealing trade secrets. It was the first time ever that the US has formally accused another government of hacking.

Jeff Moss, founder of both the DefCon and Black Hat conferences, and Chris Wysopal, a member of the Black Hat board that reviews presentations, were both skeptical of the move. Wysopal noted that Black Hat talks are taped and sold after the conference, and preventing Chinese hackers from being physically there would not appreciably affect China's hacking abilities. "It seems symbolic to me," Wysopal told Reuters of the move. Several Chinese nationals are booked to speak at the Black Hat conference, although none are booked to speak at DefCon.

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