Q&A: Understanding the hacker psyche

Understanding hackers is important for defending against the malicious ones. We talk to an ethical hacker about what inspires him and what he thinks of the dark side of cracking computers.

They're more commercial now, but there's still a very large underground hacking community.

They have great knowledge. If it wasn't for these guys they wouldn't be uncovering the problems that we're finding. People call them Blackhats, but in a sense you could call them Whitehats because they're actually finding the problems and making people aware of the problems. They're the true hackers.

I really endorse the research they do but I wouldn't endorse the malicious side of what they do, but again that is only a really very small proportion of those individuals.

Taking of this small proportion of malicious hackers, have you seen anything recently that has cheered you in terms of the fight against cyber crime?

What I found very interesting last week, was in Holland the Dutch police were actually informing individuals that they've got botnets. I think that's a clever way of reverse engineering vulnerabilities and educating individuals. However, to the reverse of that, people could then start using that for other forms of attack.

There's nothing new in what is happening, it is just a different way of conducting the attack, a different approach or platform to conduct it. For example, social engineering is not new. The concept has been around for many years, however we are using many different tools in our armoury to conduct the attack.

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