Risk
3/4/2008
02:42 PM
Tom LaSusa
Tom LaSusa
Commentary
50%
50%

Teens Still In The Hacking Biz -- On Both Sides

Way on the other side of our little blue planet, folks in New Zealand are reeling from the recent arrest of 18-year old Owen Thorn Walker, who masterminded a group of programmers that infected more than a million computers around the world.

Way on the other side of our little blue planet, folks in New Zealand are reeling from the recent arrest of 18-year old Owen Thorn Walker, who masterminded a group of programmers that infected more than a million computers around the world.Authorities contend Walker and his legion of hacking doom successfully stole banking and credit card information and manipulated stock trades. The FBI estimates the botnet they unleashed may have stolen as much as $20 million worldwide. In addition, Walker is allegedly responsible for placing advertising spam on about 1.3 million computers worldwide through systems based in the Netherlands. All total, he's looking at a decade of jail time if convicted.

John E. Dunn at Techworld.com writes "The world has been reminded that the era of the teen hacker is far from dead." Indeed, Dunn reports that just a few weeks ago a U.S. teenager plead guilty to hacking thousands of computers, including several belonging to the U.S. military.

In that case, authorities have been tight-lipped on details of the teen (hacker moniker B.D.H), leading to speculation that he's underage.

Does anyone remember that early '80s TV show Whiz Kids? The premise centered on a gang of teenage, mystery-solving computer experts. Despite their hacker-like skills, they solved crimes and used their abilities to help the helpless, defend the defenseless, and stop -- well, the stopless. Wouldn't it be nice if life imitated art?

Fortunately, for every couple of BDHs and Owen Thorns, there's a kid like Shane Kelly. This U.K. resident recently completed a Certified Ethical Hacker course, which instructs students on the various types of attacks, and how to help organizations defend against them. What makes Shane so special is that, at 16 years old, he is the youngest person to complete the course, which normally requires students to be at least 21. Shane plans to take his certification and apply it to a career in IT (helping companies defend themselves from the bad guys) and already has attracted attention of several key security executives.

We often report (read: lament) over the shortage of IT talent. With interest waning, students are dropping computer, science, and engineering courses left and right. Just as it's our responsibility as a society to make sure that there's plenty of this planet left for future generations, a similar goal for IT pros should be to cultivate interest in the technology sector among the young (lest we be forced to resort to coding via abacus). Imparting a positive attitude about our profession also can help steer these kids clear of its darker sides as well.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading Tech Digest, Dec. 19, 2014
Software-defined networking can be a net plus for security. The key: Work with the network team to implement gradually, test as you go, and take the opportunity to overhaul your security strategy.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-3971
Published: 2014-12-25
The CmdAuthenticate::_authenticateX509 function in db/commands/authentication_commands.cpp in mongod in MongoDB 2.6.x before 2.6.2 allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (daemon crash) by attempting authentication with an invalid X.509 client certificate.

CVE-2014-7193
Published: 2014-12-25
The Crumb plugin before 3.0.0 for Node.js does not properly restrict token access in situations where a hapi route handler has CORS enabled, which allows remote attackers to obtain sensitive information, and potentially obtain the ability to spoof requests to non-CORS routes, via a crafted web site ...

CVE-2004-2771
Published: 2014-12-24
The expand function in fio.c in Heirloom mailx 12.5 and earlier and BSD mailx 8.1.2 and earlier allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary commands via shell metacharacters in an email address.

CVE-2014-3569
Published: 2014-12-24
The ssl23_get_client_hello function in s23_srvr.c in OpenSSL 1.0.1j does not properly handle attempts to use unsupported protocols, which allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (NULL pointer dereference and daemon crash) via an unexpected handshake, as demonstrated by an SSLv3 handshak...

CVE-2014-4322
Published: 2014-12-24
drivers/misc/qseecom.c in the QSEECOM driver for the Linux kernel 3.x, as used in Qualcomm Innovation Center (QuIC) Android contributions for MSM devices and other products, does not validate certain offset, length, and base values within an ioctl call, which allows attackers to gain privileges or c...

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Join us Wednesday, Dec. 17 at 1 p.m. Eastern Time to hear what employers are really looking for in a chief information security officer -- it may not be what you think.