Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


06:00 AM

Name Calling

Are enterprises put off by the term 'researcher'?

2:00 PM -- The obvious disconnect between security researchers and their audience last week at the Gartner IT Security Summit ended up raising another question: Has the title "researcher" run its course? (See Enterprises Mull Own Bug Research and Using Bugs as Leverage.)

Trouble is, it's become a catch-all for lots of jobs and doesn't exactly capture all that a researcher/hacker/white-hat does. Plus it may scare off enterprises that are already queasy about vulnerability scanning. "We have a lot of problems as a practice, and one of them is we have to stop calling this 'research,' " says Thomas Ptacek, principal and founder of Matasano Security, one of the panelists. "You don't hire a 'home researcher' to check out a house before you buy it."

He thinks security researchers have made security "research" intimidating and inaccessible to enterprise security managers. "I think when we stop doing that, enterprises will find that, one, the majority of their testing needs center around commodity Web applications, which can be accessed by junior security people; and, two, that it's cost-effective to hire junior people to do that work and train them up to be rock stars."

So we informally polled some of the top researchers, and here are a few title changes they suggested:

  • Analyst
  • Auditor
  • Engineer
  • Inspector
  • Tester

Ptacek says he thinks "auditor," sexy or not, may win out eventually. "That's already a term used by businesses for security testing," he says. "But we'd have to be made of stupid to keep calling them 'researchers.' "

Not all researchers are ready to change labels, though. RSnake, a.k.a. Robert Hansen, founder of SecTheory, says there's no need for a name change for his line of work. " 'Researcher' is a noble term. While 'security researcher' might sound like a bastion of a black hat with a white suit, I think it is the term that has stood the test of time to explain that the activities are non-malicious," he says.

OK, so none of the new names are a sure thing, and some may end up generating more confusion than "researcher," but there's got to be some way to stop scaring off enterprises with the "R" word. Post your vote to our Message Board for what you think researchers should be called.

— Kelly Jackson Higgins, Senior Editor, Dark Reading

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Navigating Security in the Cloud
Diya Jolly, Chief Product Officer, Okta,  12/4/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
Navigating the Deluge of Security Data
In this Tech Digest, Dark Reading shares the experiences of some top security practitioners as they navigate volumes of security data. We examine some examples of how enterprises can cull this data to find the clues they need.
Flash Poll
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Frustrated with recurring intrusions and breaches, cybersecurity professionals are questioning some of the industrys conventional wisdom. Heres a look at what theyre thinking about.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-07
The serialize-to-js NPM package before version 3.0.1 is vulnerable to Cross-site Scripting (XSS). It does not properly mitigate against unsafe characters in serialized regular expressions. This vulnerability is not affected on Node.js environment since Node.js's implementation of RegExp.prototype.to...
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-06
In various functions of RecentLocationApps.java, DevicePolicyManagerService.java, and RecognitionService.java, there is an incorrect warning indicating an app accessed the user's location. This could dissolve the trust in the platform's permission system, with no additional execution privileges need...
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-06
In checkOperation of AppOpsService.java, there is a possible bypass of user interaction requirements due to mishandling application suspend. This could lead to local information disclosure no additional execution privileges needed. User interaction is not needed for exploitation.Product: AndroidVers...
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-06
In hasActivityInVisibleTask of WindowProcessController.java there?s a possible bypass of user interaction requirements due to incorrect handling of top activities in INITIALIZING state. This could lead to local escalation of privilege with no additional execution privileges needed. User interaction ...
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-06
n ihevcd_parse_slice_data of ihevcd_parse_slice.c, there is a possible out of bounds write due to a missing bounds check. This could lead to remote code execution with no additional execution privileges needed. User interaction is needed for exploitation.Product: AndroidVersions: Android-8.0 Android...