He ran into a few guys he had seen in prior years. Outside of possibly tripping on one another in a chat room, they rarely communicated. Funny, they all seemed to have instant recall on prior discussions, so it was to a degree like seeing old friends. These were all brilliant guys with a passion for technology and information security and basically White Hats. Like him, they mostly hated social media postings, like Facebook or Twitter, as that was viewed as great fodder for social engineering and often resulted in identity compromise or out and out identity theft. They took their financial, personal, and family security very seriously. One of the grey beards, tag name Quip, had brought his 12 year old nephew. Quip said his nephew was getting really good at finding vulnerabilities, and Quip was glad that some sessions at this year’s DEFCON would help keep the kid on the good side of the fine line.
Many guys he knew had signed up for a few of the onsite contests that were taking place, then regrouped in a central spot for lunch and serious people watching. Comments about passing folks as well as speculation on their status and predisposition for good or evil made for lively conversation. Jacob suspected the group was correct ninety percent of the time. He saw one guy pass with a shirt like his, and the group made some positive comments about the guy and his abilities. Jacob could only imagine what they’d say when he wore his shirt tomorrow.
You could identify the long term hackers as their skin resembled fish underbellies with their only color being from creative tattoos which covered all genres and in many cases much of the exposed skin. Even at a convention like this, the Feds were spotted with their well-cut suits. There were very few females in the crowd, and yet the younger set seemed about split between girls and boys. Then he caught sight of the lady he’d seen at the check-in desk coming out of the exhibit hall.
Quip made a low whistle and said mostly to himself, “Well, lookie here, Petra decided to make an appearance after all. That makes this just a whole lot more interesting now.”
Jacob was about to make a comment when the lady named Petra seemed to make a beeline to Quip. He rose and gave her a hug hello which she seemed to return along with a quick whisper in his ear.
Quip turned to face the group and said, “Guys, want to introduce you to Petra, one of the best encryption gurus in Europe on a special six month assignment here in the States. Glad you could make it and class up this event a bit, Petra. These guys are regular Joes like me, except for number one in his MIT grad class, Jacob over there.”
Petra nodded to each of the guys in turn.
With a longer look at Jacob and quick appraisal, she said, “Hi there, Jacob” and quickly turned back to Quip.
She sat down with Quip, which was too far away from Jacob for casual conversation. She spoke in quiet tones with Quip while the others resumed discussions on the foot traffic.
Quip was never who he seemed to be, mostly because you could never get a straight answer out of him. While standing with a group of other propeller-heads, Quip was asked who he worked for, and he answered that he did mostly volunteer work.
When the individual pressed him for more information, he said, “I work with a group of volunteers that likes to destabilize third world dictatorships and oppressive military juntas. I like to cater the heavy weapons for them. The load order of the equipment and weapons into the C130 Hercules is critical to a successful deployment, particularly when you’re under fire.
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