Reporters booted from Black Hat Conference for hacking

Three French journalists have been shown the exit from the yearly hacking confab after it was discovered they were hacking into the press room's Wi-Fi network.

Dominique Jouniot, Marc Brami, and Mauro Israel of the French IT publication Global Security Magazine are being accused of the hack. The magazine had been a sponsor of the conference, however organizers said they had ended the partnership as a result of the actions.

Black Hat sets up a public Wi-Fi network for use by participants, however it warns that traffic is monitored by hackers. Those attendees who fail to secure their data risk having sensitive information posted on the so-called 'Wall of Sheep.'

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Hackers are told to stay off the separate wired press network, however. That didn't stop the French journalists, who used their own server set up in the press room to peer into traffic passing through the press room's router using a program called 'Cain.'

Victims of the hack included two News.com reporters and another from eWeek. Independent evidence of their victimization was turned up by Humphrey Cheung of TG Daily. While the CNET information appeared to be incorrect, the eWeek reporter told organizers the login information appeared to be authentic.

No one knows yet the extent of the information the Global Security Magazine reporters may have gained through having access to the administrative pages of its competitors. However, at least one of the accused is very upset.

Brami is the director of the magazine's parent company, and said that he was angry at Israel, who he blames for the intrusion. Neither him nor Jouniot knew about the incident, he claims.

The fault may also lie with Black Hat organizers in how they set up the network. While it is isolated from the rest of the public network, computers are not isolated from one another, opening up the network to the type of snooping that occurred on Thursday.

At least one group, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, is looking into whether the French journalists have broken any privacy laws. EFF officials said it would advise Black Hat organizers as to whether they may take legal action.

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