Apple Busts Black Hat Talk

The Black Hat Briefings — the "premier North American technical information security conference" — is up and running in glittering Los Vegas, but it's running without its crown jewel, after Apple put the kibosh on what was set to be a first-of-its-kind panel discussion.

The panel, which was scheduled to discuss Apple's security engineering practices and the company's commitment to security, was withdrawn at the last minute after being banned by officials in Apple's marketing department. According to conference director Jeff Moss — who owned and operated Black Hat before selling it to CMP Media in 2005 — "nobody at Apple is ever allowed to speak publicly about anything without marketing approval." The decision has proven to be a public relations glitch for Apple, at least with the security community, as the panel was seen as a departure from the company's heavily-criticized policy of extreme secrecy regarding security. Moss declined to name the engineers who planned the panel, citing concerns that company officials — well-known for dealing harshly with employees — might retaliate by firing them.

The panel is the second to be yanked in as many weeks, after security consultant Charles Edge — who was schedule to speak about Apple's encryption package, FileVault — was forced to withdraw his proposal due to confidentiality agreements signed with Apple.

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