More speakers have pulled out of the RSA Security Conference in protest over allegations that RSA took a $10m (£6m) payment in exchange for helping the NSA insert back doors into its encryption technology.
According to the Wall Street Journal, at least six security experts scheduled to speak at next month's security junket – the US' answer to Infosec – have already publicly withdrawn.
As reported by CRN, Mikko Hyppönen, chief research officer at Finnish security vendor F-Secure, was the first to cancel his planned appearance over concerns the vendor's denial of allegations it entered into a "secret contract" with the NSA did not go far enough.
Poignantly, his talk was set to be on "governments as malware authors".
But, as predicted by CRN's US media partner Channelnomics, it turns out that Hyppönen's no-show is by no means an isolated incident, with the WSJ article reporting that at least five other prominent names have shelved their appearances at the San Francisco event.
This includes Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist and senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union.
"I've given up waiting for RSA to fess up to the truth re: the NSA and Dual_EC [the NSA-backed random number generator RSA is alleged to have set as the default option in one its products, in exchange for $10m]. I've just withdrawn from my panel at the RSA conference," Soghoian wrote yesterday in a Twitter message.
Josh Thomas, a partner at Atredis Partners and Jeffrey Carr, chief executive of Taia Global, are among the other speakers to have pulled out over the allegations, which were first made in a Reuters story on 20 December.
Thomas, who has worked in cryptography for the US Defense Department, told the WSJ that he could no longer "lend his credibility" to the event, which is scheduled to feature 500 speakers.
The RSA Conference has become too big for even UK channel firms to ignore in recent years, even rivalling Infosec in some people's eyes despite the 26-hour round trip.
Dave Ellis, director of new technology at distributor Computerlinks, who has attended in previous years, predicted the event would not suffer too badly from the adverse press coverage.
"It's a very big, well-established event and I think it will take a lot more than one or two people pulling out of it for it not to continue in the same vein," he said.
RSA's press office had not responded to our request for comment at the time of publication.
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