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Hollywood wide open for hacking – from NZ

Nov 10th, 2011 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

HE HACKED Hollywood’s software – and told them exactly how he did it – but big software companies didn’t want to know.

Nick Freeman, a consultant for’s Auckland office, was in Wellington last weekend to present his adventures hacking Hollywood to 600 geeks, hackers and security professionals at the fifth annual Kiwicon conference.

Mr Freeman discovered basic flaws in software used by all the big Hollywood names including James Cameron – but when he tried to tell the software companies, he got little response.

“It took me less than six hours to sit down and find each of these bugs, its basic stuff.”

The bugs he found in software such as Avid Media Composer will be released this week, which usually makes software companies sit up and take notice.

The conference, which is in its fifth year, took place at the Wellington Opera House.

Other speakers included Laura Bell, a recent immigrant from the UK who used to do “some stuff” for a government agency she is not at liberty to name.

Ms Bell’s presentation “Going Rogue” explored ways to stay off the government radar.

She demonstrated that everyday items such as a Nintendo DS can be used to communicate in an unsuspicious and untraceable way, while still looking ordinary to a casual observer.

Auckland University computer science researcher, and veteran Kiwicon speaker Peter Guttman presented what he calls an “embarrassingly simple” way to improve web browser security.

Comparing internet security to architecture, he demonstrated that a variety of small techniques can be combined to make it easier to catch out fake banking sites, and other malicious web destinations.

Several speakers also dealt explicitly with the Filesharing infringement bill which came into effect in September.

Christchurch Community Law Center educator Marissa Jonpillai (right) outlined the legal processes which people on both sides of the law have to go through.

“I loved Marissa’s talk,” says attendee Felicity Jackson, of Wellington. “She was so bubbly and herself, plus I’m very interested in the topic.”

Tech Liberty co-founder Thomas Beagle also touched on new copyright laws in his round-up of the threats to personal liberty, using number plates as an example.

“Automated plate recognition being trialled by police has the potential to create a map of exactly who is going where and when.”

Mr Beagle says new technology needs to be balanced with concerns of privacy.

“Customs technically has the right to keep any digital storage” he says, “Judges have only declined one digital intercept warrant.”

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is A Journalism Student at Whitireia in Wellington, New Zealand. His specialty areas are digital culture, politics and cyber-crime.
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