Many months before Edward Snowden made headlines worldwide for his leaks of NSA surveillance programs, the Hawaii-based government contractor was leading a “Crypto Party” to teach strangers how they could protect themselves online, Kevin Poulsen reports in Wired.
“He introduced himself as Ed,” technologist and writer Runa Sandvik, who co-presented with Snowden at the event, told Poulsen. “We talked for a bit before everything started. And I remember asking where he worked or what he did, and he didn’t really want to tell.”
The party took place on Dec. 11, 2012, while Snowden was still employed by Dell (under NSA contract) in Honolulu. He would later take a position with Booz Allen Hamilton where he had access to roughly 1.7 million top secret documents, according to The Wall Street Journal.
According to Poulsen, Snowden reached out to Sandvik — one of the key developers of the Tor anonymous web browser — telling her he ran one of the “major Tor exits” (internet traffic passes through these on the Tor network as a way to anonymize users).
Scheduled to vacation in Hawaii a month after their first contact, Sandvik agreed to present with Snowden at the event.
“Everything ran very smoothly,” Sandvik told Poulsen, adding that Snowden taught attendees how to encrypt hard drives and USB sticks. “There were no questions about how to do things or where to put the chairs. Maybe he’s just really good at organising events.”
It’s an interesting addition to the timeline of the Snowden saga, and may shed some insight on his motivations prior to the leaks. “Even as he was thinking globally, he was acting locally,” Poulsen writes.
At the same time, the latest revelation is reminiscent of another national security leaker: former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning. While on two weeks of leave from her assignment in Iraq, Manning attended a hacker party in Boston and was mulling whether to leak classified information.
NOW WATCH: Tech Insider videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.