Black Hat Pwnie Award winner will be a criminal

Law enforcement may be interested to see if anyone actually shows up to this year to accept the annual Pwnie Award for Epic Ownage at Black Hat, since all the nominees face possible criminal charges.

Nominees for the prize are Anonymous, LulzSec, Bradley Manning and WikiLeaks, and the perpetrators of the Stuxnet worm.

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Not that past winners haven't been similarly tainted, but this year's incidents have been particularly high-profile:

* Anonymous, the loose confederation of hackers with a political agenda, is up for its social-engineering hack of HBGary Federal and posting more than 50,000 of its emails online. The attack was launched after HBGary's then CEO promised to reveal the identities of group members at the RSA security conference earlier this year.

* LulzSec is nominated "for hacking everyone" including Fox News, PBS, Nintendo,, the U.K. National Health Service, Infraguard, the U.S. Senate, Bethesda, Minecraft, League of Legends, The Escapist magazine, EVE online, the CIA, The Times, The Sun and others.

* Bradley Manning is charged with stealing and turning over to WikiLeaks thousands of U.S. diplomatic messages and footage of a U.S. airstrike in Iraq. If Manning didn't do it, whoever did will be of interest to law enforcement.

* No one has claimed responsibility for the Stuxnet worm that infected industrial machines at an Iranian nuclear refinery, destroying equipment and setting back Iran's nuclear program by years. The governments of the U.S. and Israel have been bandied about as the perpetrators, and it's hard to say what Iran would do if it found out for sure who was behind the worm.

In the past, Pwnie Award winners have included vulnerabilities in WordPress software that led to compromise of blogs and a backdoor installed in Red Hat's OpenSSH software.

Read more about wide area network in Network World's Wide Area Network section.

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