Australian police criticise 'ethical' hacking demonstration

Police in Queensland, Australia have spoken out after a researcher demonstrated an 'ethical hack' on a Facebook user account

Police in Queensland, Australia have spoken out against a demonstration of a Facebook privacy hack that took place at the BSides Australia conference on the Gold Coast.

In the demonstration on Tuesday, researcher Christian Heinrich showed how he obtained from Facebook photographs of security contractor Chris Gatford and his family, including the image of a child. Heinrich used a brute-force attack to guess the URLs of privacy-protected images stored on Facebook's content distribution network. The incident led to a journalist being arrested and having his iPad seized, after he published some of the images online.

Following the event, detective superintendent Brian Hay, head of the Fraud and Corporate Crime Group of the Queensland Police Service, criticised the demonstration of a so-called 'ethical hacking'. "I think cultures have built up where hacking, in the past, has been a part of a competition, and you have black-hat conferences around the world. The technical reality is that on those occasions crimes may well have been committed," he said.

For more on this ZDNet UK-selected story, see Qld cops denounce 'ethical hacking' on ZDNet Australia.


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