Black Hats and White Hats
Posted by Pamela S. on Wednesday, August 1st, 2012
How do you know that what you read is true? Some people assume that everything in the media has been investigated. Legitimate news sources check out their stories, but that doesn’t mean it is always the truth. If you really want to get to the truth, check various sources to confirm any stories that you read. Even then, sometimes it is difficult to discern what is true, especially when hackers work their black cyber magic.
This past weekend, a fake editorial about WikiLeaks was posted online. The article was supposedly attributed to former executive editor of The New York Times, Bill Keller. The op-ed piece, titled “WikiLeaks, a Post Postscript” was published on a fake New York Times page and was spread by legitimate journalists on Twitter. It was also posted on the real Bill Keller’s Twitter stream. According to CNN, WikiLeaks has admitted its supporters are responsible.
Here is the fake (assuming it hasn’t been taken down when you read this). Note that like phishing sites, they use a url similar to the legitimate site: www.opinion-nytimes.com
The real url for the New York Times Op-Ed page is: www.nytimes.com/pages/opinion/index.html.
The fake page is actual a marvel. It looks legitimate and has links to the real thing. That is how easy it is to fool people, even journalists.
If anyone knows more about this, it would be the hackers who attended Def Con. The annual Def Con Hacking Conference attracts a strange combination of black hats and white hats (criminal and “ethical” hackers), IT security and federal agents. The conference just ended. Approximately 15,000 attended the 20th anniversary of the event.
At this recent conference, General Keith Alexander, director of the National Security Agency and head of the U. S. Cyber Command, was a keynote speaker. Gen. Alexander brought a hacker to the stage, who goes by the pseudonym CyFi. He called this person “the most important person for our future.” She is 11 years old.
Why would one of the top security people in the nation promote the future of hacking? And why would parents bring their children to Def Con, for the Def Con Kids program and to encourage hacking?
The Def Con people promote “ethical hacking” such as finding bugs in programs and becoming involved in digital forensics. This is called “White Hat” hacking.
In an article on CNN, Def Con founder and hacker Jeff Moss says that he has his own test for deciding whether to hack something: “My rule of thumb is, do I completely own it? If yes, I can hack it.”
Lauren Gelman, an attorney who specializes in Internet law and policy suggests checking the Electronic Frontier Foundation‘s (EFF) site, which outlines the legalities of the Internet and covers everything from blogging to coding.
According to the Def Con site, “ Federal law enforcement agents from the FBI, DoD, United States Postal Inspection Service, and other agencies regularly attend DEF CON.”
The “Black Hat” convention is another event that recently took place. Although “Black Hats” refers to hackers who conduct illegal activities, the convention is a must for IT security and works to prevent this kind of hacking. The focus on this year’s event was vulnerabilities with the latest technology, such as mobile devices.
This is the future. Our children are much more savvy about technology than we are. Child hackers may seem scary, but if your child is a whiz at computers, the experts seem to agree; let them learn, but make sure that you are guiding them in the right direction.
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