IDG News Service - Four South Korean journalists were booted from the Defcon hacking conference this week after conference organizers decided their story didn't quite add up.
Conference representatives released few details of the incident. They said Sunday that they'd ejected the journalists two days earlier after deciding that they simply weren't acting like press. They believe that one member of the group was a legitimate journalist, but that the other three were on some sort of intelligence-gathering expedition.
Hackers who the group interviewed at the show said that their questions seemed inappropriate, organizers said. The journalists attended one day of Defcon's Black Hat sister conference before being ejected on Friday.
Defcon did not release the names of the journalists or say who they claimed to work for.
This kind of incident happens nearly every year, said one of the show's senior organizers who goes by the name "Priest."
In the past, they say they've caught members of Mossad, the French Foreign Legion, and other organizations posing as press. By registering as journalists, they can get more time to query researchers and raise no suspicions by asking probing questions.
"When you think about it, being a member of the press is a pretty good cover because you can ask difficult questions, people love to see their names in print and in lights, so they're much more likely to talk to you, so you can get away with a lot more," Priest said.
The French Legionnaires were easy to spot, he said. "There's a certain body type you find with people who are in that type of work," he said. "Broad shoulders, narrow waist, not very tall. I'm looking at these guys, going, 'You're in far, far too good shape to be press.'"
The Legionnaires eventually admitted that they were not press and were allowed to stay at the show as regular attendees. They even went on stage for Defcon's annual "spot the fed" contest where people are invited to pick out government employees from a group of attendees.
Government employees posing as press often move very quickly to technical questions, rarely showing any interest in the motivation behind the research. They get "very technical very quickly," Priest said. "They're much more interested in what the latest is and what the greatest is and how they can use it."
Often they also ask about U.S. government systems or seem to be gathering intelligence on the presenters, he added.
And often attendees are happy to provide the information, thinking that it may be used in an article, particularly young, inexperienced hackers, Priest said. "You've got usually a very introverted individual, who usually doesn't have a lot of friends, and if you have someone paying attention to you... you're flattered; you're ego's being stroked; you're much more likely to try to impress that person."
This pilot fish is a contractor at a military base, working on some very cool fire-control systems for tanks. But when he spots something obviously wrong during a live-fire test, he can't get the firing-range commander's attention.
- IT Certification Study Tips
- Register for this Computerworld Insider Study Tip guide and gain access to hundreds of premium content articles, cheat sheets, product reviews and more.
- Reduce federal infrastructure risk with compliance management and situational awareness
- IBM continuous monitoring and management solutions deliver real-time situational awareness to help federal agencies understand vulnerabilities, and protect the infrastructure.
- Considerations For Effective Software License Management
- For many reasons, software license management has become a critical issue for many IT organizations and enterprise's alike. With many licensing options, hurdles...
- eBay uses 100% OpenSource WSO2 ESB to process more than 1Billion transactions a day
- Along with eBay's success comes a huge demand to ensure reliable, 24x7 availability of the services that enable these transactions. For eBay, that...
- A Reference Architecture for the Internet of Things
- The aim of this is to provide Architects and Developers of IoT projects with an effective starting point that covers the major requirements...
- REST easy: API Design, Evolution and Connection
- RESTful design increases API performance, reduces development effort, and minimizes operational support burden. By following a few best practices and selecting RESTful tooling,... All Government IT White Papers
- It's not too late...Get Your Mobile Questions Answered Live! How can IT provide seamless and secure mobile communications and collaboration for all? Join this live Webcast as IDG asks an expert panel...
- Why do you need an enterprise mobile platform? Today companies must offer great apps that run on a range of devices, and connect to an exploding set of backend data. Appcelerator...
- The Foundation You Need to Build a Better Storage Infrastructure Watch this webcast to hear how you can maximize the economics of your data center by modifying your storage footprint and power usage...
- Building Tomorrow's Data Center with Converged Technologies A number of forces are converging: the cloud, converged infrastructure, big data and fabric architectures to name a few.
- Technology for Everyone A Kansas school district modernizes teaching and learning and paves the way to a one-to-one program with a comprehensive upgrade of its wireless...
- All Government IT Webcasts