A group of reporters from Global Security Mag were kicked out of the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas after stealing password information from another reporter who will remain nameless-we'll call him "me."
LAS VEGAS-As some of you may have already
read by now, one of our brilliant cyber-minds at eWEEK who will remain nameless
(Brian Prince ... oh wait ... damn!) entered one of his passwords in the clear and
had it intercepted at this year's Black Hat conference.
Alas, I broke one of the cardinal rules of security and, but for the grace
of the Black Hat conference staff, would have had my name added to the infamous
Wall of Sheep.
Here's the back story: A group of journalists representing Global Security
Mag, one of the media sponsors of the event, decided it would be a good idea to
see if they could catch some of their fellow journalists insecurely accessing
the Web via the LAN (local area network) in
the conference pressrooms.
Although all the technical details of what the trio of journalists did was
not known early Thursday evening, it appears they used a classic man-in-the-middle
The group snagged a password for a Web-based application
used by eWEEK. That password, as you might suspect, has since been changed
back at eWEEK headquarters.
They also claimed to have gotten information on a reporter for CNET
News, though a CNET reporter at the
conference denied the information was accurate. The journalists from Global
Security then approached Black Hat staff and tried to get our user names
added to the Wall of Sheep.
For those who don't know, the Wall of Sheep is a mainstay at DEFCON, another
security conference held right after Black Hat. The purpose, according to Black
Hat founder Jeff Moss, is to serve as an educational tool for attendees who
visit the Wall of Sheep room.
"There's an educational component, where you can come in, plug in [and]
they'll tell you what's going on," he said. "They'll give you tools for
sniffing, teach you how to monitor the network, how to look for your computer
When the Global Security journalists approached the Black Hat staff about
putting the stolen information on the wall, they were rebuffed. It
turns out it is against conference rules to target the journalists in the
pressroom, and Black Hat officials said there may be criminal issues involved
with the attack.
Read here how patience pays off for hackers in the Web security war.
The three-identified as Dominique Jouniot, Mauro Israel
and Marc Brami-were promptly kicked out of the conference and are banned from
attending DEFCON as well. However, fellow reporter Humphrey Cheung of TG Daily.com
, who was
in the Wall of Sheep room at the time, snapped a quick photo of a screen
displaying the goods.
And so it was that just as I was about to relax in my room before heading
off to the McAfee dinner, I received a call from the Black Hat staff saying my
password may have been stolen. Now some may ask why I used my password in the
clear in the first place. There's no good answer to this question, though I
will say the application I was using does not require SSL
VPN for remote access. Previously, a similar application we used here at eWEEK
did. But with it no longer necessary to log in, I got out of the habit of using
the SSL VPN client on my computer.
While Moss spoke of possibly taking steps to further secure the conference
infrastructure in the future, Black Hat Technical Director Dominique Brezinski
noted correctly that you can't protect against everything.
"There's a certain point in all security kind of risk evaluation that you
have to trust something, you have to accept certain risks," he said.
Maybe so, but the wrong amount of trust just leaves you with egg on your
face. And speaking for myself, I only like my eggs at breakfast.