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Home » Hacking News » German TV Show Contends Bank Hack Assignment Not Wrong

German TV Show Contends Bank Hack Assignment Not Wrong

by Majik on October 11th, 2001 Members of the news team of a popular German high-tech TV show have openly admitted that they asked hackers to break into the computers of one of Germany's largest banks.

Bernd Leptihn, news head of the TV show Technical Adviser (Ratgeber Technik), told Newsbytes, "We didn't do anything wrong. I don't think the hackers did anything wrong. I didn't do anything wrong."

Leptihn was responding to comments made Friday by a spokesman from HypoVereinsbank, who told Newsbytes that the bank was considering legal action against Technical Adviser and the hackers. But before the bank makes a decision, it must first determine whether the hackers acted on their own, or acted only after consultation with Technical Adviser, which is produced in Hamburg.

The hacking was reported on the Sept. 16 edition of Technical Adviser, and was a major embarrassment to Munich-based HypoVereinsbank, which loudly described the hacking as illegal.

The hackers were able to gain access to online accounts and downloaded names, account numbers, PIN numbers and Internet IP addresses, which are important for secure online banking.

Leptihn was not available to comment for Friday's story. He and the producer of the Hypovereinsbank hacking story, Niels Hannemann, contacted Newsbytes today.

Hannemann said that he had been hearing stories that the computers of some German banks had security holes, and that he had put out word in the hacking community seeking someone to confirm that. Some young hackers, who also operate an Internet security consulting company in Leinefelde called Multimedia Network Systems, contacted him.

"They told us they thought it would be possible to hack Hypovereinsbank and we said, 'Okay. Try it,'" Hannemann said.

Leptihn, who was anchorman for Technical Adviser for 27 years but now works behind the camera, said he was not worried about a lawsuit from HypoVereinsbank. The TV show is produced by ARD, one of Germany's two public TV networks, and a powerful media voice in Germany.

Leptihn said that ARD legal department says HypoVereinsbank has no legal basis for a lawsuit, because investigative journalism is allowed under German law if it is in the interest of the public. And Leptihn believes informing the public of the holes in HypoVereinsbank's computers was very much in the public interest.

But Leptihn said that the hackers were young, and a bit intimidated and frightened by HypoVereinsbank's threats of criminal action.

Stephan Weide, who at 22 is a managing director of Multimedia Network Systems, would not admit to being afraid when contacted by Newsbytes. But when pressed, he finally conceded: "Yes, we are a bit worried. We have no desire to go to court."

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