More than a decade ago, I attended an excellent talk by well-known cryptographer and security expert Bruce Schneier, where his key point was that there was nothing new under the sun when it came to security issues.
Yes, the scary stuff happening on the internet at the time, involving hackers and algorithm-cracking and malware, might seem particularly alarming because it was, or seemed, as if it had never been seen before. But actually, he argued, it was all the same old crimes, just done with new tools. Theft, identity-stealing, fraud – they’d all be familiar to a Roman.
Every time I attend a security event, or, as last week, the launch of a security report, his point comes to mind, as it puts the latest trends in malware, or the most recent outrageous hacker exploit, in a useful context. It isn’t so much what’s being done, as how it’s being done. And that, as I discovered way back when I stumbled into my first security conference in Silicon Valley and was hooked like a phishing victim, is endlessly inventive and fascinating.
And so it was, out at Symantec’s security centre in Dublin, as researchers talked through Symantec’s 2014 Internet Security Threat Report , which looks back over key developments in 2013.
Hence Heartbleed, the internet security bug that has made headlines this month, didn’t feature at all. But there were many bizarre and intriguing developments.
I found particularly fascinating a discussion on some of the potential ways to get money ...