Linux Format censored over 'Learn to Hack' feature

May 4, 2012 // 10:39 a.m.

Tags: #barnes-noble #beat-the-cia #censorship #future-publishing #learn-to-hack #linux #linux-format #magazine

A controversial hacking how-to in the last issue of Future's Linux Format has led to the magazine being pulled from the shelves of US bookselling giant Barnes & Noble.

Issue 154 of Linux Format magazine had as its cover feature a piece entitled 'Learn to Hack,' walking readers through the use of the Metasploit Framework exploitation toolkit to gain access to computer systems running a variety of operating systems. The article also covered password cracking, network sniffing, and man-in-the-middle attacks over encrypted protocols.

More importantly, the guide also covered how best to protect your systems from the self-same attacks, providing readers with information that the publication hoped would help keep them safe from the ne'er-do-wells inhabiting the seedier sides of the net.

Despite a warning of the illegalities of using any of the information contained within the article to attack systems which you do not own, the cracking tutorial proved too much for Barnes & Noble. The US bookseller pulled all copies of the magazine from shelves, although it's not yet clear whether it did so at the request of its own management or as a response to complaints from an outside agency.

In a response to Barnes & Noble's apparent censorship, Future has elected to put the content of the article online for free, for those who were unable to read it in the magazine. Quoting security guru Bruce Schneier - 'I believe that the subject is just too critical, too integral a part of our everyday lives, to be left exclusively in the hands of experts' - the magazine's editors have defended the feature while apologising for those who missed out on the magazine.

The publication has also elected to continue with the planned publication of an pro-privacy tutorial in the latest issue entitled 'Beat the CIA,' in response to government plans in both the UK and US to introduce increasingly intrusive communications monitoring and censorship laws.

Thus far, Barnes & Noble has not indicated whether it will be carrying the latest issue.

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