Saturday, February 1, 2014

'Near' and 'Far', 'Hackers' Language|'

"Hi, this is your old pal Grover, and today I'm here to talk about the difference between 'near' and 'far'." If the popular Sesame Street character was back today to give lessons to little ones, may well teach the differences between ‘good hacker' and 'bad hacker’. Because, deep down, they are almost the same than the differences between 'near' and 'far'.

Step into the shoes of a very curious guy. Of someone who, among his interests, wants to go beyond what a single video shows. For example, to detect a second audio signal. That guy may have tools to separate audio channels, extract the contents, make several debug and filtering processes, and try to decipher what isolated digits mean… And get it. Well, that is "near", ie a ‘good hacker’, who tells his story in and who already has a legion of fans cheering its technological prowess.

Now step into the shoes of a security consultant, which has among its tasks to find some guys who have developed a top cyber threat, eg SpyEye. What would you do? Would you get their nicknames to track all of their posts in hacker forums? Would you inject yourself the malicious code to extract information from its files? Would you investigate infected servers to track them? And with all that data would you compose a map that will lead you to conclude your research correctly? Well guys at Trendmicro have done it. And that is 'near' and 'far'. That is, good hackers chasing bad hackers.

Don’t get off of Trendmicro, so they explain us in a very interesting post " for dummies" what the Tor network consists of, and questions about browsing clients and the persistent threat of malware. To attack their victims cybercriminals use the same ways that allow anonymity, and they even require the use of a Tor client for paying after ransomware attacks. The post wonders how to cope with this rising tide of 'evil hackers', in a browsing experience designed by hackers who are not bad nor good guys. That is to be more 'far’ that near'.

Finally, imagine that you are in charge for national cyber defense, let’s say Israel. Now imagine that you receive an e-mail and 15 of your ‘soldiers’ click where they should not. Now, you are caught in the trap. Well, that is ‘far’: evil hackers trying to obtain illegal information, without judging the ideological (or political) motives (or justifications) that may be behind that. And for 'near' and 'far', this would also deserve a lesson about the difference between 'wise' and 'unwise'. As Michael Ende wrote: “But that is another story, and shall be told another time”.


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