Hacked off! | Breakthrough Funding

Friday, November 20, 2015

Hacked off!

While you’re reading this blog how can you be sure that your confidential online information is not being hacked? Your bank account? Telephone records? Texts?

It was recently announced that one billion people worldwide used Facebook within a 24-hour period, so it’s difficult to disagree that the internet is not an essential part people’s life – but many feel it’s becoming an increasingly risky information portal.

It is said that there are two types of company: those that know they’ve been hacked, and those that don’t.

The recent cyber attack on TalkTalk has once again highlighted the vulnerability of large corporations. Addresses, dates of birth, telephone numbers, bank account numbers and sort codes of some of the internet provider’s four million customers were apparently accessed. The perpetrators are also threatening to dump all the data online for everyone to see.

It seems as though no corporation is too big to escape the threat of a cyber attack. Sony, Fox News and the CIA have all been victims in the past. It would seem that the bigger a scalp, the more incentive there is for a hacker to write code to navigate their way through firewalls and security levels.

The Hackers Profiling Project at the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute in Turin, aims to lead the fight against this modern day threat. By looking at the characteristics of hackers, they hope to be better prepared to identify and prevent attacks in the future.

However, investigative journalist Misha Glenny has a contrasting view on hackers. He feels that we should be guiding and engaging with what he refers to as a “remarkable breed” and employing hackers to strengthen our online fortifications and better understand attacks of this nature.

Glenny has met a lot of notorious cyber criminals and he doesn’t believe that these “misunderstood” individuals should be locked behind bars. His case studies include American Max Vision (aka ICEMAN), Sri Lankan Renukanth Subramaniam (aka JiLsi) and Nigerian Adewale Taiwo (aka FreddyBB). All learned to write code in their early teens, before receding into the seedy depths of the cyber crime underworld.

Should we allow these misguided individuals to be given another chance to prove that they can be a benefit – and not a menace – to society, as Glenny suggests?

The context of hacking is important, but whatever the reason, converting these poachers and turning them into gamekeepers could make the internet a safer place.

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