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This article was published on May 17, 2011

Journalist quizzed and iPad seized by police after reporting Facebook privacy bug

Journalist quizzed and iPad seized by police after reporting Facebook privacy bug

An Australian journalist has been questioned by Queensland Police after he published a story about a security flaw on Facebook.

Ben Grubb, Deputy Technology Editor at the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and the Brisbane Times, was questioned by cops after covering the AusCERT IT security conference in Surfers Paradise.

It’s not entirely clear why Grubb was arrested yet. The piece he published centred on a rather bizarre story regarding two security experts that were speaking at the conference.

According to Grubb, security expert Christian Heinrich demonstrated in front of the delegates how he had managed to acquire privacy-protected photos of the wife of fellow conference speaker Chris Gatford, who is Director at HackLabs.

Whilst Grubb’s article also discusses Heinrich and Gatford’s supposed dislike for each other prior to the conference, it was the unethical nature of Heinrich’s actions that raised eyebrows among some.

It transpires that Facebook, among other social networking websites, use what’s known as content delivery networks (CDN), which – for the purposes of ensuring content is delivered swiftly – use external servers.

And this is why Heinrich supposedly pulled this stunt, to demonstrate that even with the highest security settings, Facebook can still be infiltrated by those who know how. According to Grubb’s report:

“Heinrich demonstrated how he had, over about seven days, extracted the privacy-protected Facebook photos of Gatford’s wife via Facebook’s CDN. One photo was of Gatford sitting on the floor next to one of his children. Heinrich blurred out the child’s face but left Gatford’s in.”

Following Grubb’s article, a number of tweets were posted both from Grubb himself and from Queensland Police, which has a surprisingly open and active presence on the social network.

Grubb’s tweets were as follows:

Ben Grubb (bengrubb) on Twitter

Althought Grubb claimed he had been arrested, Queensland Police stated he had only been interviewed, and the iPad which it had seized would be returned soon:

QPS Meda

We’re currently trying to establish why Grubb was interviewed by Queensland Police over this report.

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