HBGary Federal legal threats, not Anonymous chase Aaron Barr out of Defcon security conference

Aaron Barr, the tech executive who bailed out of a talk at the Security B-Sides conference after the hacker collective Anonymous attacked the company he worked for, is bailing out of yet another conference, this time chased away by his former boss.

Barr was scheduled to participate in a panel at the Defcon conference in Las Vegas next week, but he's dropped out, reportedly after his former employer, HBGary Federal, told him it would seek an injunction against his appearance, according to Threatpost, whose editor is moderating the panel.

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The panel, "'Whoever Fights Monsters ...' Aaron Barr, Anonymous, and Ourselves," is billed by the conference as a discussion of the problems faced by those who try to expose attackers that work anonymously, such as Anonymous and LulzSec.

Barr threatened to expose Anonymous in February when he was CEO of HBGary Federal. In retaliation, the group attacked the company website and hacked its emails, posting more than 50,000 of them online. Barr resigned from the company.

The emails revealed some of HBGary Federal's business dealings that were criticized as unethical.

A description of the panel says it will discuss this flip-flop of roles when the exposer of bad guys becomes portrayed as a bad guy. "But recent events suggest that in their efforts to combat a faceless enemy, IT security firms and their employees risk becoming indistinguishable from the folks with the Black Hats," the description reads in part.

Participants in the panel are aware that it could draw some scrutiny, both from those fighting the anonymous hacking groups and from those participating in them. "This is a very intense topic/venue," says Josh Corman, a former security analyst who is also participating in the panel discussion, in an email. "The whole thing is high risk and high reward given the severity of the issues we'll be tackling."

Read more about wide area network in Network World's Wide Area Network section.

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