Author
David Harley
David Harley
Senior Research Fellow

Education? Academic background in modern languages, social sciences, and computer science.

Highlights of your career? I was a late starter (1986) as an IT professional, beginning at the Royal Free Hospital, then with the Human Genome Project (1989), then at Imperial Cancer Research Fund (1991-2001), where I wrote/co-wrote/edited a number of Internet FAQs and my first articles on programming and security. I presented my first conference papers in 1997 (at Virus Bulletin and SANS). In 2001 Osborne published Viruses Revealed (co-written with Robert Slade and Urs Gattiker): VR and the later AVIEN Malware Defense Guide (Syngress) – to which Andrew Lee also contributed – are probably the best known of my books. When I rejoined the UK’s National Health Service in 2006, I ran the Threat Assessment Centre and was the go-to person nationally for malware issues. I left to work as a freelance author and consultant in 2006, which is also when I began to work with ESET.

Position and history at ESET? Senior Research Fellow at ESET N. America. Primarily, I’m an author and blogger, editor, conference speaker, and commentator on a wide range of security issues. Like the rest of the industry, they put up with me because I’ve been around so long.

What malware do you hate the most? Malware is just code. It’s malicious people I detest. While I’ve no love of scammers, I can see that it’s easier to be honest in a relatively prosperous environment – if there is such a thing anymore – and that cybercrime can be driven by an economic imperative. But I have nothing but contempt for those sociopaths who cause harm to others for no reason except that they can.

Favorite activities? The guitar (I still gig and record when time allows), other people’s music. I love opera but don’t attempt to sing it. Photography, art, poetry, country walking – well, ambling is about as much as I can manage at my age – good food and wine, good television when I can find it...

What is your golden rule for cyberspace? Scepticism is a survival trait: don’t assume that anything you read online is gospel truth, even this adage.

When did you get your first computer and what kind was it? Amstrad PCW (primarily a word-processor) in 1986. What else would you expect a not-very-rich author to buy in 1986? :)

Favorite computer game/activity? Extra-curricular writing (blogging, verse and lyrics, articles). Digital photography and miscellaneous artwork.

More Info

ThreatSense.Net: Fear and Loathing in the UK

I was asked about malware infection in the UK (especially with reference to Conficker), and(a) if the situation is really as bad as we, the AV vendors make out, and what the real infection rate is; and (b) whether government and ISPs etc could do more to help. You can now find a link here

iWorm ikee: Sex and Drugs and Rick and Roll

The iPhone, it seems, is under siege: a recent worm exploits a known (and previously exploited) vulnerability that affects the owners of "jailbroken" phones on which OpenSSH has been installed. (Jailbreaking allows iPhone users to install and use unapproved applications.) Of course, there's been an enormous amount of media coverage on this already (I've just

Tamper-Proof Anti-Malware

As I already mentioned briefly in a blog about our October Threat Trends Report, researchers Christopher and Samir came up with an interesting idea at the First International Workshop on Aggressive Alternative Computing and Security, held under the auspices of ESIEA Laval (École Supérieure d'Informatique, Electronique et Automatique). They took a handful of scanners (including NOD32),

October Global Threat Report

As usual, ESET has released its monthly Global Threat Trends Report, which will be available in due course at http://www.eset.com/threat-center/index.php. There are no surprises in the top five malicious programs, which have the same rankings as in the September report. Clearly, not enough people are taking our accumulated advice on reducing the risk from Conficker,

False Positives: A Round of Applause…

The anti-malware industry isn't a suitable environment for the thin-skinned. We get used to receiving "more kicks than ha'pence" (see http://www.virusbtn.com/spambulletin/archive/2006/11/vb200611-OK).. In particular, I've grown accustomed to the fact that many people expect all the following from an AV product: Absolute Protection Absolute Convenience Absolutely no  False Positives Absolutely no charge False positives (FPs) are

Halloween: There’s Something Scary In Your Search Engine

We told you to watch out, didn't we? (see Randy's blog at http://www.eset.com/threat-center/blog/2009/10/23/this-is-the-funniest-video-ever). But it's not just Michael Myers, zombies and vampires you need to watch out for. It's also Funny Halloween Costumes, Harvey Milk, Pumpkin Carving Stencils, candy, Pokemon, and McDonalds Monopoly online. Yes, the fake/rogue AV gang have started on their Halloween special,

Fake Anti-Malware: Blurring the Boundaries

It won’t come as a surprise to regular readers of this blog that there’s a lot of fake/rogue anti-malware about. (see http://www.eset.com/threat-center/blog/category/fake-anti-malware-fake-software). However, a report released at RSA Europe goes some way towards quantifying that threat, and has created something of a stir in the media. That’s to be expected: journalists tend to love facts and figures. Anti-malware

Fake Windows Update

[Update: I notice that at about the same time that I posted this, Sophos also flagged a blog reporting a somewhat similar fake update for Microsoft Outlook/Outlook Express (KB910721). The message is a lot different and links to a different site pretending to be Microsoft’s update site, but is clearly not to be trusted. So the

Antivirus? Who Needs It?

I came across an interesting article today on "Breaking the conventional scheme of infection" at the evil fingers blog site. Actually, it’s by my colleague in Argentinia, ESET Latin America Security Analyst, Jorge Mieres, but I didn’t realize that at first. (The original blog is in Spanish, and if your command of that language is

So What Is AMTSO Compliance?

The AMTSO (Anti-Malware Testing Standards Organization) meeting in Prague, which took place at the beginning of this week, proved to be rather more exciting than you might expect from a group with the word "Standards" in its name. One of the issues that caused particularly lively debate centred around the question of what constitutes AMTSO

Requests for Support

One of the less obvious tasks associated with blogging is that every so often we have to find time to go through the comments that have been posted to our blogs. Inevitably, some are examples of blog spam that have slipped through our filters. Some are comments to blogs we posted long ago, and while

The Truth About Cybercrime

I was quoted last month in an article at PC Retail (http://www.pcr-online.biz/features/305/The-truth-about-cyber-crime), which is nice. However, I just came across the notes I made at the time of the original enquiry/interview, most of which wasn’t used, so here are my full responses to the questions Andrew Wooden asked, in case they’re of interest. (Actually, they’re slightly expanded and I’ve

We’re going on a job hunt…

English Version of HTTPS video

As promised earlier (see http://www.eset.com/threat-center/blog/2009/10/07/https-revisited-spanish-video) an English version of ESET Latin-America’s demonstration video of a phishing attack using HTTPS is now available at http://www.eset-la.com/centro-amenazas/videos/phishing-https-english/.  Those earlier blogs again: http://www.eset.com/threat-center/blog/2009/10/06/ssl-to-certify-web-security-is-not-to-guarantee-it  http://www.eset.com/threat-center/blog/2009/10/04/truth-fiction-and-https   Thanks, Sebastián! David Harley BA CISSP FBCS CITP Director of Malware Intelligence ESET LLC ESET Threatblog (TinyURL with preview enabled): http://preview.tinyurl.com/esetblog ESET Threatblog notifications on Twitter:

HTTPS revisited – Spanish video

Further to our blogs on HTTPS and SSL certificate issues – see http://www.eset.com/threat-center/blog/2009/10/06/ssl-to-certify-web-security-is-not-to-guarantee-it and http://www.eset.com/threat-center/blog/2009/10/04/truth-fiction-and-https – Sebastián Bortnik has been talking to us today about a video that ESET Latin-America have put together demonstrating a phishing attack using HTTPS. If your Spanish is better than mine, you can check it out here. However, we’ve been working on an

SSL: to certify web security is not to guarantee it

Hard on the heels of the translated blog by Sebastián Bortnik that I posted at the weekend comes news from the Register (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/10/05/fraudulent_paypay_certificate_published/) of a bogus Paypal SSL certificate released yesterday exploiting a bug in Microsoft’s crypto API that has remained unpatched for more than two months, when Moxie Marlinspike (can I have a handle

AVIEN and Testing

Some readers will be aware of my long-standing connection with the Anti-Virus Information Exchange Network (AVIEN) at http://www.avien.net (I hold the title of Chief Operations Officer there). AVIEN has now instigated a member’s blog at http://www.avien.net/blog, and I’ve put up a couple of blogs today on testing to help kick it off (Andrew Lee, my former

Truth, Fiction and HTTPS

Update, 19th October. I was recently contacted indirectly by Eddy Nigg of StartCom, who points out, quite rightly, that this issue is not specific to StartCom, nor a problem created by StartCom. He commented further in a comment to Dan Raywood’s article for SC Magazine arising from this blog entry, and I think it’s only

Greyware: Trust Me, I’m a Lawyer

Since I’ve just spent several days at a major conference, you might have expected a flurry of blogs about it. And indeed, there’s a lot more I hope to say about VB 2009, but I’ve been beset by a number of other issues that have demanded my attention, in and out of the blogosphere.  I did rather hope

Microsoft Security – Essential?

People keep asking me about Microsoft’s newly released Security Essentials free anti-malware (formerly known as Morro). Randy and I both blogged about it at some length back in June – see http://www.eset.com/threat-center/blog/category/microsoft-security-essentials and http://www.eset.com/threat-center/blog/2009/08/03/more-free-lunches, for instance – but there’s still a lot of interest in the impact that the product is likely to have on ESET

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