A ‘Federal Agent’ Plays Slots and Talks at Las Vegas Hacker Convention


At Defcon, the annual hacker conference that met over the weekend in Las Vegas, attendees play a semi-official game called “Spot the Fed.” The object is to identify who among the rabble of computer geeks and hackers is an employee of the federal government. I spent the weekend reporting at Defcon and though I never went to claim a prize—I don’t think journalists are invited to play anyway—I do think I found a Fed.

As a conference that hosts speeches on topics like how to cyber-hijack a jetliner, Defcon takes pride in skirting the edge of legality. Feds, especially in the post-Snowden era, are not especially popular, though the place is rumored to be “crawling” with them, as one long-time attendee put it to me. Not all of them are covert; two years ago former head of the National Security Agency Gen. Keith Alexander spoke to the crowd. Then last…

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