Monday, May 22, 2017

Don't look a gift horse…

A year ago, today ...

Gifts can be quite a headache. The first thing to do is to calculate an adequate budget (enough to make a good impression but without spending our entire salary on it), and then, find the ideal gift. Rather than the gift being ideal, it has to be right for the person receiving it. This is directly related to the theory of the sociologist Marcel Mauss, who explained that after each gift there is an exchange network: you give something away hoping you get something back.

Another of the collateral damages of this "exchange network" is that if you give away something of great value and you get something of lesser value, you will see it as an offense. Today in our retrospective review of what happened a year ago, we will see more and less grateful gifts in the world of cybersecurity.

The problem comes when you make a gift and the person who receives it does not take it very well. That must have occurred to Dejan Ornig, a 26-year-old Slovenian student who discovered a hole in the police communications protocol. What was his reward? A sentence of 15 months in prison, which were exonerated in exchange for not hacking in 3 years. According to his sentence, he was found guilty of "attacking an information system, falsifying documents and audio recordings". Who dares to say something to the Slovenian police?

However, not all gifts are misunderstood and wasted as in the case of poor Ornig. A year ago, the creators of ransomware TeslaCrypt decided to abandon their criminal activities and as an epitome they left behind all the keys to decode their ransomware. A gift that of course all the researchers and those affected by it did not hesitate to receive with open arms. It is better to rectify on time than never do it.

Another news that was to be thankful for, was the one that the Washington Post offered us. According to a study by the US government, more and more people are changing their habits on the Internet, to make them more secure and private. The motivation of that change? More and more people have been affected by cybercriminals. It seems that we only learn when the bad things happen...

While it is true that awareness is increasing, it is also true that it does not seem to be enough. Just as we improve, so do criminal structures. Last year we collected a study by HP Enterprise that talked about the growing professionalization of cybercriminals. The preparation of these "companies" reaches such a point that they have nothing to envy to any multinational.

Apart from the personal motivations of each one when it comes to making gifts, we believe that it is always appreciated when someone has a detail with us. It may not be the most orthodox thing in the world, but the thought (and the purpose in Dejan's case) is what counts. That is why from here we believe that in the world of cybersecurity, every detail is to be welcomed.


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