Hakin9 Magazine - Accusations of Non-payment

Sun Oct 7 23:06:43 CDT 2012

Despite the obnoxious spam Hakin9 editors send out soliciting people to write articles without compensation, there are apparently a number of cases where payment was promised in return for articles or advertising. Below are a few cases of Hakin9 not paying as promised; some of these incidents are taken from other web sites, and have not been independently verified. The number of incidents, both confirmed and otherwise, suggests a serious pattern of unethical business practices.

#1: Fyodor / insecure.org

The following details were relayed to us directly from Fyodor, and are summarized here as the first example of non-payment.

Ewa Dudzic from Hakin9 contacted Fyodor in 2009 to negotiate the purchase of $995 in advertising on his sites. Fyodor began running the ads and sent an invoice. Over the next few months, he sent several reminders about the outstanding payment due. The only thing he received was mail from Dudzic saying she would "follow up with accounting". By early 2010, the invoice still had not been settled. Around that time, Olga Kartseva from Hakin9 contacted Fyodor to purchase more ads. He told her about the current outstanding invoice that must be settled first, and did not hear back from either of them for some time.

In July of 2012, Ewa contacted Fyodor and promised to finally pay the $995 owed. Instead of contacting him due to having integrity, he was contacted because they wanted to stop him from calling them out as deadbeats as he had before. After the initial promise of payment, the following exchanges occurred.

July 5 Ewa Dudzic (their Editor-In-Chief) emails Fyodor offering to pay outstanding invoice. Fyodor re-sends original invoice.
July 7 Ewa replies with "Thank you very much for this. I will pay it a.s.a.p."
July 7 Ewa asks for a newly dated invoice and says "It should be paid next week." Fyodor creates new invoice as requested and sends it to her.
July 11 Ewa asks Fyodor to create another new invoice, this time containing their Tax ID number. He does that and she replies "Thanks a lot. Now, should be ok"
July 27 Ewa says "We would like to make a payment however the bestway will be via paypal". Fyodor sends her their Paypal address (even though it was in all of the previous invoices that she received).
August 23 After not hearing from Ewa in nearly a month, Fyodor emails her indicating payment still not received. She responds that "It will be paid as soon as possible. I'm sorry about the next delay."
October 8 No payment received, after 2 years.

#2: Anonymous

The following story was relayed to us by someone who wishes to remain anonymous, as he fears retribution from Hakin9. We have worked with this person for over a year on another project and consider him to be a reliable source. For readability, we will refer to him as 'Bob'.

Several years ago, Bob ordered a subscription to Hakin9 magazine from the official printing company listed on hakin9.org for his country. The magazine was not cheap, largely due to the delivery charges for sending the print copies out of country. After receiving many print issues, they stopped coming. Bob contacted Hackin9 and was told that they had switched to 100% electronic versions (PDF), apparently without telling all of their customers. As a paying subscriber, he said the change was fine. After several attempts, he found that he could not download any of the issues, past or current. Over the course of ten emails, Bob asked for help downloading and eventually a refund, as he was still not receiving the content he was paying for.

During these emails, Hakin9 told him that he had to pay more money to keep receiving issues. Instead of paying, Bob asked them for a refund for the oustanding issues that had not been delivered. Despite these emails, Hakin9 never refunded him for the remaining issues, and never sent him any new issues.

#3: Marc Ruef

The following details, including a copy of the contract, were relayed to us directly from Marc, and are summarized here as the second example of non-payment for articles written.

In 2006, Marc Ruef wrote two articles for Hakin9 as part of a contract for Hakin9. The contract, written in Polish, explicitly shows Hakin9 agreeing to pay money for each article. At the time, Ruef refused to sign the contract unless he could understand it. He repeatedly asked them for a copy of the contract in English, German, or French, all of which were ignored. Even though Hakin9 accepted and published both of his articles, they stopped replying to his mails regarding the two articles, the contract, or outstanding payment.

Despite not paying him, they continued to mail him asking for new articles. Each time he replied saying that they must pay him for the previous articles before he would write anything new. In each case, Hakin9 would ignore those mails regarding payment. Six years later, Hakin9 has still not paid him for his work.

#4: Wojcik, Konieczny, Coinage, and Shaw

In addition to the three cases above, Google searches reveal that other people are unhappy about Hakin9 and non-payment. The first is by Bartek (Bartosz Wojcik) of secnews.pl, who writes about not being paid for an article he wrote. He also notes an article that says the parent company of Hakin9, 'Software Publisher' expected to make 12.5 million Polish zł (~3.93 million USD). In the comments to Bartek's post, 'Coinage' also says he has not been paid money owed for an article.

On a Polish IT Security forum, Hakin9 posted soliciting for writers. In a follow-up comment, Piotr Konieczny agrees with Bartosz Wojcik and confirms that he was not paid for articles either. In both cases, they reference that the original agreement did not cover their articles being printed in overseas editions, yet they were.

Finally, Joseph Shaw tweeted that Hakin9 had not paid him for articles he wrote in 2003.


In a matter of days, attrition.org had conversations with three people that we respect and trust that have had negative experiences with Hakin9 involving not being paid for their work as agreed. Searching the web found three more instances of Hakin9 and non-payment, despite being part of a company that makes millions of dollars each year. While this is not definitive proof, it certainly establishes an alarming pattern about Hakin9 business practices. This should serve as a warning to any new authors approached to write for the magazine to be cautious in their dealings with the company.

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