A hacker’s view

  • Read our feature on why brands should be wary of the rise of consumer espionage, here
  • Find out how brands should deal with online and social problems in our Q&A with Eric Roach chief executive at XYDO, here
  • Discover the attributes of a customer-obsessed company, here
  • “Consumers are much more likely to listen to a message from each other in social media terms than they are from a brand” says Mumsnet co-founder, read more here

“To catch a thief, it takes a thief,” says former hacker Gregory Evans, now a security analyst at Nationalcybersecurity.com. “The problem with big corporations is that they have no real security people working for them – they have IT managers.

“All these companies hire these guys with fancy degrees, who have never hacked a system before. Ryan Cleary, who was recently charged with a string of hacking attacks, is 19 years old and comes from Essex. He doesn’t have a degree. So why was he able to hack into some of the biggest corporations in the world?

“Sony went online and it got hacked. It then got shut down for weeks. It came back online and it got shut down again. The reason is that it used IT managers to design its network and when it got shut down, it used IT managers to bring its network back up and hackers were able to shut it down again.”

Evans believes that the recent string of corporate hacking from groups such as Lulz Security (LulzSec) which has targeted high-profile corporations and government agencies, means that brands need to get tough dealing with consumers breaching their operations.

The LulzSec group is a splinter group from Anonymous, a larger and more politically motivated collective that first surfaced in 2008. Anonymous gained mainstream notoriety last year when it hit companies including PayPal, Visa, Amazon and Mastercard in revenge for cutting off payments to the WikiLeaks website.

“Top priority is to steal and leak any classified government information, including email spools and documentation. Prime targets are banks and other high-ranking establishments. If they try to censor our progress, we will obliterate the censor with cannonfire anointed with lizard blood,” said a statement from the shadowy group.

“They call themselves ’hacktivists’ and say they’re trying to be whistleblowers, hacking in to show companies that their security is weak, or to steal information to show to the public. They’re not. This is an excuse for these people to hack,” claims Evans.

If brands don’t take action by getting hackers on their side immediately, says Evans, then consumer espionage will be a growing problem. “IT managers are like army personnel. And hackers are more like Navy Seals or Special Forces. They don’t need a big team. Use five good hackers and they can do the damage of 1000 people.”

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