Narrator: Canada and other NATO countries are ramping up the fight against cyber attacks. To do this, it is bringing in the best IT specialists to gain maximum protection for its information systems. At a recent cyber crime conference, former hacker Charlie Miller gave his views on the subject. Charlie gained notoriety when he pirated the original iPhone and pointed out the defects in its operating system. Now working with the ‘good guys’ he is sharing his expertise.
Charlie Miller: Basically I’m giving a talk about some of the breaches that have happened recently, the big breaches, and I do some analysis about what they have in common, and why there’s these problems, and basically what I conclude is that there’s all these vulnerabilities in software
Narrator: Charlie Miller lives in St. Louis in the United States. He is now 37 years old. He has been fascinated by computers ever since he was a child. A true geek, he has won a number of world-wide hacking competitions. For him, pirating a system is always a new challenge.
Charlie Miller: I enjoy it. Some people like crossword puzzles, I like to find vulnerabilities in software. It’s challenging. It’s fun. I enjoy it.
Narrator: And the American former hacker doesn’t need sophisticated equipment to pirate information systems.
Charlie Miller: I’ve won this hacking competition for the last four years, and the computer I use is six years old. Most of what I do is slow work. You need patience and skill.
Narrator: And no need for advanced IT skills either. All you need he says, is to gather plenty of material.
Charlie Miller: One of the interesting things about computer security is once someone like me writes a tool to exploit it, then anyone can do it. You saw that in some of the software attacks where someone would write out a service tool and have a lot of people download it and use it. So these people who are actually performing the attack they didn’t necessarily understand how computers work or how networks work.
Narrator: Who better than a former hacker to identify the weakness of a system. Charlie now makes his skills available in the interests of information security. He pirates a company’s product, sometimes at their request and shows them where the weak points are. He believes that cyber security must begin with the creation of software, which is as secure as it can possibly be.
Charlie Miller: I think the most important thing you can do is try to eliminate the vulnerabilities in software which is going to rely on getting the people who produce the software to do a better job, and so I think as a government if you can, through incentives and laws and punishments, force companies to make software that is more secure it will protect everybody.
Narrator: In his opinion a quality label and a security certification are essential for all existing products, but Charlie Miller is aware that there is a ways to go before cyber space is secure.
Other stories of interest: