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Is no one safe?
Written by Daniel   
Saturday, 30 September 2006 10:50
Hacker: Researchers at Risk

SEPTEMBER 29, 2006 | A popular white-hat hacker known as "simple nomad" is warning his peers that security researchers may soon have to go further underground to publish vulnerabilities and exploit code.

Mark Loveless (a.k.a. "simple nomad"), security architect for Vernier Networks, says recent events should spur researchers to operate as though they are being "watched."

To prove his point, Loveless points to developments such as Microsoft suing an anonymous hacker over hacking its DRM software; a rumor that Data Rescue may only sell its popular IDA Pro reverse-engineering tool to government agencies; and his general concerns about federal government "snooping."

Loveless, who will deliver the keynote on the topic at this weekend's ToorCon8 hacker conference in San Diego, Calif., said in an interview that he's trying to shake up the hacker community. "My main point is to get hackers to start acting like they are being watched constantly and [as if] they are under investigation, in an effort to start using safer computing tactics, encryption, etc.," he says. "I plan on telling them that up front -- if they are uncomfortable, there is a reason."

"This is a wakeup call," he says. "We're going to slowly lose ground, and the walls will close in tighter on our little community."

Not all researchers agree with Loveless' dire predictions. "The bigger driver shaping researchers these days is that there is really no motivation for an independent researcher to actually ever share any research with the public," says Marc Maiffret, CTO and chief hacking officer for eEye Digital Research. "The copyright laws and lawsuits are really more of a concern for companies who are doing research... Today there are exceptions to almost every law that allows for people to still reverse-engineer software for security purposes."

Dan Kaminsky, an independent researcher, says it's no surprise hackers are under as much scrutiny as anyone else today. He also considers the DRM issue separate: "I caution against seeing the DRM wars as reflective of anything larger," he says. Microsoft currently is suing the writer of a program called FairUse4WM for allegedly accessing source code in its copy protection technology.....More



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