THE ODD COUPLE When the annual DEFCON hacker convention in Las Vegas kicked off last week, the techhead crowd had an unusual keynote: from the computer-crime squads of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Needless to say, relations between the two groups have not always been so civil. As a popular Internet joke relates: What do you say to a computer programmer in a suit and tie? Answer: Will the defendant please rise? For the first time in my memory, we were invited, says George Grotz, an FBI special agent. And we were received quite well. The bureau, which has three computer-crime squads nationwide, told roughly 300 attendees about the damage caused by seemingly harmless break-ins and pranks. Grotz points out that the label hacker, which most media use to refer to a computer thief, is actually a term meaning a diehard programmer. A cracker is someone who breaks into systems. Our goal is to convince crackers to become hackers, Grotz says.