[ISN] A Day at the Miami Beach Cyberarms Fair

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-06-05/infiltrate-conference-draws-hackers-spies-to-miami-beach By Michael Riley Business Week June 05, 2014 Thomas Lim, the founder of a boutique company that sells cybermunitions and hacking tools to governments and corporations around the world, has mischievous taste in T-shirts. The one he’s got on, as he sits in the Art Deco-style bar of Miami Beach’s famed Fontainebleau Hotel, says he’s a reservist for Unit 61398 of the People’s Liberation Army, a notorious group of Chinese computer spies. It’s an inside joke aimed at the 160 hackers, spooks, and mercenaries attending Infiltrate, an annual security conference that draws a more elite crowd than the larger industry confabs. An unusually boisterous 44-year-old in a business that prizes discretion, Lim is the chief executive officer of Coseinc, based in Singapore. His nation-state clients are mostly countries that want to join the U.S. and China in the cyber­power club but don’t have the skills to do it on their own. He conducts a lot of business at conferences—networking, picking up clients—and Infiltrate is one of his favorites. While most such gatherings have become unabashedly commercial affairs, Infiltrate still maintains the feel of a digital Casa­blanca, where hackers mingle with spies, and defense contractors troll the bars for talent. Mindful of laws on corporate espionage, sellers of cybermunitions are careful to say they only provide information and code; the buyers decide what to do with it. Over two days in May, Lim trades Edward Snowden jokes with National Security Agency spies and slams beers with Argentinian exploit developers. (Exploits allow a hacker to take over an unsuspecting user’s PC.) The event’s technical talks—and sideshows such as Brazilian jujitsu demonstrations—draw experts from England, Finland, France, Italy, and Malaysia. There are no name badges, only color-coded wristbands: black for featured speakers, red for the audience. The list of attendees is secret. If you don’t already know who you’re talking to, the ground rules suggest, you shouldn’t be asking. […]