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The Top 10 White-Hat Hacks

By Jordan Robertson - 2014-07-23T01:49:30Z

Photograph by Brian L. Frank/Redux

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9 of 12

Subway Subterfuge

For organizations that find themselves the target of white-hat research, threatening legal action does more than elevate the hackers' profiles. It also all but guarantees huge publicity of security issues they would rather keep quiet.

Such was the case in 2008, when three Massachusetts Institute of Technology students planned to give a talk at DefCon on how to add hundreds of dollars in value for free to the fare cards used by the Boston subway. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority sued the students, but it ultimately proved counterproductive.

Although the students didn't give the talk, their entire presentation had already been given to thousands of DefCon attendees on a conference CD and is widely available online. The lawsuit only heightened interest in the research. Several months later, the two sides settled the case and the MBTA dropped its lawsuit and agreed to work with the students.

Read the special report on cybersecurity.