back to article Google Spectre whizz kicked out of Caesars, blocked from DEF CON over hack 'attack' tweet

At midnight on Thursday, Matt Linton, a senior Google bod who was one of the key players in sorting out the Spectre CPU security hole mess, went to his hotel room in Caesars Palace, Las Vegas – and found his key no longer worked. When he went to reception to find out what the problem was, he was met by two security guards who …

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  1. CAPS LOCK Silver badge

    It's to be hoped that the conference organizers vote with their dollars...

    ... shirley there must other conference venues that offer just as much fun[1]. I hear Harrogate is nice at this time of year.

    [1] Hookers and drugs, or so I've heard.

    1. frank ly Silver badge

      Re: [1]

      Isn't that combination more likely to get you hooked on drugs?

    2. diver_dave
      Pint

      Harrogate...

      Give it it's due.

      It does have some good beer and curry houses.

      :-)

      1. Warm Braw Silver badge

        Re: Harrogate...

        I'd quite like to see the culture clash when DEF CON meets Bettys.

    3. Christian Berger Silver badge

      It doesn't seem like they care

      "Nowadays the NSA, CIA and defense contractors routinely recruit at the two shows"

      I don't think they care about what they do when they allow the NSA, the CIA and defence contractors as _recruiters_. I mean recruiters by itself are already not welcome at European conferences, even less so when they come from organisations that have on multiple times worked against the population. I mean what's next, a Mozilla stand?

    4. BillG Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: It's to be hoped that the conference organizers vote with their dollars...

      While somewhat off-colour, anyone with an ounce of security knowledge could see that this was a joke about how hackers attack the dumbest and easiest low-hanging fruit.

      But unfortunately there are people out there without an ounce of brains that won't see that this is was a joke, and think the tweet is a call to action. They'll interpret the word "attack" in an unfortunate way, with results ranging from inconvenient to lethal.

      In today's hostile online culture there are people tweeting calls for attacks, and the mentally-challenged are reading those tweets and taking them seriously.

      1. GrapeBunch Bronze badge

        Re: It's to be hoped that the conference organizers vote with their dollars...

        I would not criticize the sluggards. They will always be with us. It's the hackers who are at fault for using a word such as "attack" as slang. Really? What did you expect, especially in the United States? One could safely use all manner of words, even "tickle".

        Chess is an untapped source for new possible slang words without baggage. Sente, joseki, atari. Oops, wrong game. Combination, pawn storm, checkmate, Zwischenzug, Zugzwang, Sitzfleisch, outpost, passer, board room, isolani, back rank, ... maybe "colour complex" would be risky in some contexts. The chess word stalemate is prodigiously misused because it ends the game, while time and death may loosen an impasse, a deadlock, or a Mexican standoff. Pedant alert: it's "risk-averse", not "risk adverse".

        1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

          Re: It's to be hoped that the conference organizers vote with their dollars...

          @GrapeBunch - But "attack" isn't slang, it is a general term that can be correctly applied to any harmful or destructive act... even chess players use it. Terms like Zwischenzug are highly specific; hackers have lots of specific terms, too.

          How about handing out dictionaries to hotel staff and the police?

          1. Glenturret Single Malt

            Re: It's to be hoped that the conference organizers vote with their dollars...

            It adds a new dimension to the football report which said that Manchester City's most effective attacks came through the middle of the Arsenal defence.

    5. GIRZiM

      Re: It's to be hoped that the conference organizers vote with their dollars...

      'He has either never been to Umm Qasr or he's never been to Southampton. There's no beer, no prostitutes and people are shooting at us. It's more like Portsmouth.'

      A British soldier's reaction to a claim by Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon that the port of Umm Qasr is 'like the city of Southampton.'

      Harrogate's much the same I take it?

      1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

        Re: It's to be hoped that the conference organizers vote with their dollars...

        No. Harrogate's classy.

        And it has a great attraction for defcon attendees : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAF_Fylingdales

        1. GIRZiM

          Re: Harrogate's classy

          Nice try, but I make it a rule never to believe anything positive I read in the comments section on El Reg - it's invariably a piss-take at best (an outright lie at worst). ;-D

  2. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    Twitter should be switched off

    There's something inherent in the Tweet medium that is incompatible with thoughtful discourse. Clearly, it is causing vastly more harm than good. Shut it down already.

    At the very least, all governments and corporations should explicitly ban its official use, 100%, no exceptions. Go back to carefully-considered news releases.

    Clearly, the world would be better without Twitter.

    Anyone disagree? LOL...

    1. GIRZiM

      Re: Twitter should be switched off

      "There's something inherent in the Tweet medium that is incompatible with thoughtful discourse. Clearly, it is causing vastly more harm than "

      And that's where the idea died, right there - because it was over 140 chars long.

      If you want this idea to grow legs and run, you need to rephrase it.

      Something like: Tweets incompatible with thoughtful discourse. Gov./Biz. should officially ban and return to news releases. World better without Twitter.

      Then the twitterati might actually see it - for once, you do need to preach to the choir converted perverted

    2. tom dial Silver badge

      Re: Twitter should be switched off

      I gave this an upvote, but only as to use by government officials* in a context in which the messages might be construed as statements of public policy. There are plenty of other ways to announce public policies and programs, nearly all of them better.

      As a matter of personal liberty, individuals generally are free, and arguably should be, to say what they wish and make asses of themselves in the bargain if they are so inclined. Twitter, which as a private entity can set what standards it wishes and censor content as it pleases, rightly or wrongly has chosen to leave the platform quite open, providing them a very convenient vehicle for that.

      Corporations, as private entities generally should be able to behave similarly to natural persons within various legal constraints imposed by such things as securities laws and regulations. Both corporations and individuals, of course, often would be wiser than it sometimes appears they are to suppress the urge to tweet.

      * and we all can think of at least one government official who violates this without apparent end.

  3. Julz

    Hum

    Whom at the hotel was monitoring all their guests twitter accounts? Is this normal practice in the land of the free?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hum

      Can't invasively advertise your loyalty program to your "guests" on every page they visit if you haven't got them fully covered across their social media presence.

      And if you just happen to have your security drones monitoring the same feeds, well, that's just efficient.

      In all seriousness, Vegas casinos have some of the most comprehensive and sophisticated monitoring and data analysis setups on the planet. The things they can do if they so choose are often terrifying.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Hum

        "In all seriousness, Vegas casinos have some of the most comprehensive and sophisticated monitoring and data analysis setups on the planet. The things they can do if they so choose are often terrifying."

        Which inspired the lyrics 'I am the Eye in the Sky, looking at you, I can read your mind/I can cheat you blind'

        1. adnim Silver badge

          @Alan not Parsons Brown Re: Hum

          "The maker of rules, dealing with fools"

        2. Claptrap314 Bronze badge

          Re: Hum

          THAT is what inspired that song? Wow. In any event, my company did Vegas for the annual one year. Most stressful week of my life. (Worse than basic training.) Almost all retail these days is predatory, but there my defensive warnings just would not turn off.

          Not my town. Not my town at all.

        3. John Sanders
          Megaphone

          Re: Hum

          And I don't need to see any more to know that.

        4. mwnci

          Re: Hum

          We shall call the next years DEFCON "The Alan Parsons Project"....

      2. Kane Silver badge

        Re: Hum

        "The things they can do if they so choose are often terrifying."

        I'm thinking, stuff to do with hammers?

    2. Symon Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: Hum

      "Whom at the hotel was monitoring all their guests twitter accounts?"

      If the answer to that question is "Him was!" then you used the correct pronoun.

      https://www.scribendi.com/advice/who_vs_whom.en.html

      1. Graham Cunningham

        Re: Hum

        Is there an APP for that? ;)

    3. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Hum

      I doubt anyone at the hotel was monitoring all the guests Twitter accounts, but the FBI probably was. Though IMHO more likely in a conference this size there are a few people who don't like this guy for whatever reason, saw his tweet, and anonymously reported it to the hotel as a threat to cause trouble for him.

      Could be anything, maybe he stole the girl someone was talking to in the bar the previous night, professional jealousy at his recent success, or maybe he's just an asshole in person and disliked by many for perfectly understandable reasons.

      1. Justicesays

        Re: Hum

        "I doubt anyone at the hotel was monitoring all the guests Twitter accounts,"

        Want to bet? (phrasing relevant)

        I suspect they have a system with filters like "vegas, break bank, cardsharp, cheat, rig, sure thing, caesars palace" that picks out relevant tweets from all of twitter (you can do this yourself on sites like twitterfall) , flags up relevant tweets, and then checks the name/handle against current and upcoming guests . Wouldn't take much work to add "gun, attack, shoot" etc. to that existing system after the previous shooting.

        1. DougS Silver badge

          Re: Hum

          And how is the hotel going to know your Twitter handle is Justicesays, since I'm assuming that's not your real name? It isn't like most people use their real name on Twitter, or if they do that the hotel would have any way to link their real name to one of the many accounts with the same real name.

          Besides, if they searched on "break the bank" they'd probably have dozens of hits a day. Everyone always makes some smart ass comment like that when they post in social media about going to Vegas.

          Sorry, there just isn't any way for them to link social media to real life, unless they decided to act like US Immigration and required people to turn over a list of their social media accounts (and passwords, in case their posts threatening to count cards weren't public)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Hum

            "And how is the hotel going to know your Twitter handle is Justicesays, since I'm assuming that's not your real name?"

            Because the twitter widget the casino have installed in their website told them so when you booked the room.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      'Whom at the hotel was monitoring all their guests twitter accounts?'

      That would be 'the AI' sir. Like hotel-security it doesn't do humor!

    5. Glenturret Single Malt

      Re: Hum

      Who not whom.

  4. TechnicalBen Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Some people feel threatened just by you/us existing. Their solution?

  5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    It might get quite difficult to find that Caesar's Palace on Google in the near future.

    1. Nick Kew Silver badge

      Are you suggesting he'd abuse his position?

      Surely better just to get the kind of publicity this story has brought it. When I was a lad we used to associate this kind of incident with Soviet-empire communism.

  6. }{amis}{ Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Where To??

    Even if you did want to move black hat where would you send it to?

    The obvious choice for maximum privacy and freedom of expression legal protection is Geneva but Switzerland is absurdly expensive, and most of the other countries I can think of are also a member of the 5 eyes B$

    Any Ideas?

    1. Julz

      Re: Where To??

      Where else, Russia...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Where To??

      The obvious choice for maximum privacy and freedom of expression legal protection is Geneva

      In that case I'd prefer to be closer to Bern. Not only is that where the Data Protection people actually have their official office, but it's also so full of retiring diplomats that privacy is a given. And they don't speak French :)

      However,it is rather boring ..

      1. Doctor Evil

        Re: Where To??

        "However, [Bern] is rather boring .."

        Altstadt - "Only for people who don't mind party noise after midnight until 4 a.m.". But that was last year; perhaps it has now changed (in that flighty Swiss way) ...

    3. Where not exists

      Re: Where To??

      I'm sure Reno would be happy to take away some of LV's biz.

      1. LucreLout Silver badge

        Re: Where To??

        I'm sure Reno would be happy to take away some of LV's biz.

        Having visited Reno once, before my many trips to Vegas, they might as well relocate to Blackpool as Reno.

        The first motel we (group of guys travelling) tried to rent a room at had the front desk guy literally sitting in a jail cell - to prevent visitors accosting him. Hugely entertaining, and Reno is a fun place, but it pales in comparisson to Vegas. Sorry Reno - I'll always remember you fondly, but I'll probably not be back.

        1. RogerT

          Re: Where To??

          They cannot move the conference to the UK because the visa issuing department will reject most of the applications.

          1. Nick Kew Silver badge

            Re: Where To??

            They cannot move the conference to the UK because the visa issuing department will reject most of the applications.

            ... which would be a big improvement for unfortunate victims like Sklyarov or Hutchins.

            Not sure where to suggest. There are a few countries with more liberal track records re: the 'net, but such things are subject to change (e.g. Oz, Germany). Perhaps a venue with a well-developed hospitality industry but busted government might suit. Greece, for instance?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Where To??

      The clusterfuck of US people not being allowed back in their own country after the conference would be ironic too.

    5. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      Re: Where To??

      Even if you did want to move black hat where would you send it to?

      Any number of small, island nations would love to host, would be affordable and already have the kind of environment that would make for a good fit due to their banking sector. Not naming any names, just throwing that out there.

    6. GrapeBunch Bronze badge

      Re: Where To??

      I found Switzerland not that expensive in the shoulder season between summer hiking and winter skiing. Beginning of November, for example.

      But if you have to hold your do in August, why not Slovenia, or Denver? Or both; it's a connected world, it says here on this packet of crisps.

  7. sitta_europea

    The airlines are quite clear about this kind of thing. Cracking jokes about attacking their facilities will get you arrested. I don't see why any other business should be expected to put up with jerks who do similar things, and just do nothing about it.

    And this is not in spite of, but BECAUSE of things like Mandalay Bay.

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Cracking jokes about attacking their facilities will get you arrested

      And cracking jokes comparing burka-wearers with bank robbers will get you short odds on leading the Tories. Doesn't make it right.

      1. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

        And cracking jokes comparing burka-wearers

        Well, niqab (which is what he meant) but heeeey, The Road to Mandalay!

    2. JohnFen Silver badge

      "Cracking jokes about attacking their facilities will get you arrested"

      Which is also 100% unacceptable.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      And the airlines are wrong

      And I hope moving DEFCON out of the US in response to this incident might wake the establishment to how we've been eating ourselves alive with security madness. I'm not optimistic; neither will happen.

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