Mitnick Banned From Security Group

Thursday, 13 February 2003, 1:10 PM EST

By all accounts ex-hacker Kevin Mitnick created only a modest stir when he sauntered into the December meeting of the Los Angeles chapter of the Information Systems Security Association (ISSA). He sat quietly, paid attention, and at the conclusion of the meeting joined with some of the other 60-odd attendees swapping business cards, chatting with fellow computer security workers and discussing his plans for his new consulting business, Defensive Thinking. "He wasn't flashy at all," recalls one chapter member, who didn't recognize Mitnick until the conclusion of the meeting. "He introduced himself as 'Kevin.'"

But the celebrity hacker was noticed, and when he showed up next month at the January meeting -- open to non-members for a modest fee -- he was already at the center of a controversy. "People were saying, this would reflect bad on the L.A. chapter if we let him in," says the member, speaking on condition of anonymity. The members had coalesced into two opposing camps: those who thought Mitnick's presence at the gathering was an affront to everything the group has stood for in its 20-year history, and those who thought it was pretty cool.

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