Why ElcomSoft attended Def Con conference

Editor's Note: The following piece is by ElcomSoft employee Vladimir Katalov, in part written to discuss what his company does, and in part to respond to Peter Zelchenko's recent Sklyarov meets Copyright, East meets West article.

By Vladimir Katalov, ElcomSoft

Mr. Zelchenko writes:

Over and above the rudimentary and relatively low-key 'Here's a neat little cracking program I've posted,' [Sklyarov] has gone to Def Con in Las Vegas, a sort of Revolutionary Paris for the EFF/WIRED crowd, and effectively declared a war alliance along with the West Coast technos against software tyranny.

And later writes:

Def Con is not an academic environment, but a West Coast techno-geek hacker "bacchanalia," by its own admission.

Then later writes:

If Dmitry was encouraged by others to publicize his findings in this way, then that is the story I would wish to write about.

That needs explanation. First, some additional information about our company. We provide state-of-the-art computer forensics tool development, computer forensics training and computer evidence consulting -- not only to individuals. We develop and provide forensic software tools to law enforcement, military and intelligence agencies worldwide (including USA) since 1997. Hundreds, if not thousands of government computer specialists rely upon these tools to conduct computer crime investigations. They are also used by some of Fortune 500 corporations, many branches of the military departments all over the world, foreign governments and major accounting firms. So we recognize ourselves as specialists in that area. Just as an example of how our software is being used: one of our tools helped to investigate the crime (murder) in Texas, and so the police department has issued us a "Honorary Deputy Sheriff" certificate:

In April 22 - 25, 2001, we were Platinum Sponsors and Exhibitors of "Techno-Security 2001" conference in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It focuses on Computer Forensics For Industry & Law Enforcement, Cyber Crime Prevention, Information Terrorism and other related topics. More information available here:

In February 14-15, 2001, we have were invited speakers at Black Hat Windows 2000 security conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, sponsored by Microsoft, PricewaterhouseCoopers, The National Computer Security Center and SecurityFocus.com:

Our speech "Analysis of Microsoft Office password protection system, and survey of encryption holes in other MS Windows applications" is available here:

And on MP3 CD, VHS, and cassette tape:

Being at BlackHat in February, we were also invited to the next BlackHat briefings scheduled to July'2001, to talk about eBook security.

Unfortunately, we were very busy preparing to Techno-Security Conference (see above), and so sent the excerpts of our proposed speech (to have the company included into the speakers' list) only at the beginning of May. We got a response from BlackHat coordinator, Mr. Jeff Moss, that the deadline for call for papers for invited speakers had already passed. Mr Moss (one of the Def Con coordinators as well) advised us to be speakers at Def Con and to just attend BlackHat as vistitors -- because these conferences generally cover about the same topics, but BlackHat usually has about 500 attendees and Def Con about 5000, so it might be even better. So we agreed to speak at Def Con.

Our official "delegation" to Def Con included 4 ElcomSoft employees, including Dmitry Sklyarov and Andy Malyshev registered as speakers, and myself and Alexander Katalov as visitors.

I hope this explanation will help people understand why we made our speech on Def Con, but not on some other conference.

Vladimir Katalov
Managing Director
ElcomSoft Co.Ltd.

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