David Harley | WeLiveSecurity

Bio

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 2001, 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.

Articles by author

Septic Thumb Drive

The Register has reported that it cost Ealing Council, in London (UK) some £500,000 in lost revenue and repairs after a “virus infection” in May. According to El Reg’s John Leyden, the virus in question was Conficker-D, though because of differences in Conficker variant naming, it’s difficult to say exactly which variant that would refer to.

Mac Malware (again)

An interesting comment was made to my last blog on Snow Leopard, Mac malware and all that. I’ve approved the comment, but since people who read the blog earlier won’t necessarily go back to see what comments it’s attracted, I’ll answer it here, at more length. Mac User said that “Currently, the only way to get

AMTSO – the Next Generation

I’ve just returned from Canterbury in the UK. One of the reasons I was there was to present a paper on malware naming at CFET 2009 (3rd International Conference on Cybercrime Forensics Education & Training). It was an excellent conference, and I’ll have more to say about that later (and the paper will be available shortly

419 and Mac scams

I forwarded this to myself from another account yesterday because I thought it was one of the laziest 419 scam messages I’d ever seen. From: British Tobacco Company Sent: 27 August 2009 19:46 Subject: Contact Mr Paul Adams Congratulations! Your e-mail ID was among the selected lucky winners of £1,000.000.00 GBP in our BRITISH TOBACCO

Snow Leopard and Malware

Mac User has reported in a little more detail than I’ve seen elsewhere so far on the Trojan detection in Snow Leopard, quoting freelance OS X and iPhone developer Matt Gemmell. In fact, the meat of the story is Gemmell’s tweets, which state that:the system checks for only two known Trojans, RSPlug and iServices, and

Web Searches and Dangerous Ladies

I feel like the learned judge in the ’60s who asked, in the course of a trial, “What is a Beatle?” since until recently I couldn’t have given you an accurate answer to the question “What is a Jessica Biel?” In fact, I’d probably have said something like “”Wasn’t she in Flashdance?” (The answer is

Rogue Anti‑Malware Exploiting Athens Fire

Cristian Borghello, Technical and Education Manager at ESET Latin America, tells us that they’ve noted quite a few sites that pretend to provide information on the fire crisis in Athens, Greece, but actually download malware onto the user’s PC. (Mistakes in translation are down to DH!) The criminals are using Black Hat SEO (Search Engine

New White Papers

A number of new papers have been added to the white papers page: Cristian Borghello’s “Playing Dirty” is a translation of his original Spanish paper, available on the ESET Latin America web site, and describes in detail how criminals make money out of stealing online gaming credentials and assets. My paper Social Security Numbers: Identification is

Turkish Delight (2)

This is part two of a recent email interview with a Turkish web site, with part one made available here for the benefit of those of us who don’t speak Turkish.  I’ve done a little editing on parts one and two, primarily for cosmetic reasons. Question (4): What the golden rules for using the Internet with

…and Talking of Bratislava

This is a research blog, not a marketing blog. Not that there isn’t a place for marketing (that’s what pays our salaries, in a sense!) and marketing blogs, but my guess is that most of our readers here would get bored quite quickly if we spent too much time on press-release type material, our latest

(User) Education, Education, Education

Regular readers will be aware that, unlike many people in the security industry, people in this research team tend to be enthusiastic supporters of security education for end users, both inside and outside business: not as The Answer To Everything, not in terms of turning everyone who uses the Internet into a security expert, but

Turkish Delight

So, back in harness. I’ve been away for a couple of weeks: not on holiday as such, though I did take some days out, but concentrating on writing: it didn’t hurt that I didn’t have a full-strength internet connection to distract me, though. Before I left, I was interviewed by a Turkish security site. It

Twitter and the Corridors of Power

I was amused (and not the only one, either) to notice that the UK’s Cabinet Office has recently launched a “Template Twitter strategy for Government Departments”: I wonder if they’re thinking of reconsidering in view of the proven fragility and security-shakiness of Twitter, but I suspect not. I am tempted to make a cheap shot related

Crisis? What Crisis?

In the AV industry, we’re not unaccustomed to security scare stories met with a debunking response. For example, Peter Norton was quoted in 1988 in Insight as saying that computer viruses were an urban myth, like the alligators supposed to inhabit the sewers of New York. (He did change his mind around 1990 when he gave

A Matter of Life and Delf? Malware on the Fiddle

There’s been a certain amount of buzz in the past couple of days about messages claiming to link to Wire Transfer information, but actually related to a Trojan commonly called Delf or Doneltart. ESET is detecting the examples we’ve been seeing as a variant of Win32/TrojanDownloader.Delf.OZG. The messages generally look something like this (at least,

Shorteners/Redirectors: short of ideas

We’ve been having some discussion internally about shortened URLs, with specific reference to pointing to web resources on Twitter, where you can’t actually avoid using shortened URLs, because an uncompressed URL is automatically shortened using bit.ly. You may remember that I discussed these issues before here, The main problem, of course, is that it’s all too

Slideshare Responses

We’ve had reassuring responses from Slideshare about the recent problem with a malicious slide deck and the company’s timely removal of the malicious account. You can find these in the comments to the previous blogs on the subject, but as many people who saw the original blog won’t necessarily go back to check on comments,

Slideshare update

Further to yesterday’s blog at http://www.eset.com/threat-center/blog/2009/08/03/slideshare-used-to-spread-malware, I hear from  Sebastián Bortnik that the account holder that posted those malicious slides to Slideshare has been banned, and the slide decks are no longer available. However, he (the black hat, not Sebastián!) had managed to post 2,473 slides with malicious links before he was stepped on: see

SlideShare used to spread malware

Over the weekend our colleagues at ESET Latin America found that Slideshare was being used to spread malware. As they haven’t found much information on the web about this, Sebastián Bortnik blogged today about what they found. (Errors in translation and interpretation should be attributed to David Harley!) I’ve added some thoughts and some content

More Free Lunches

Discussion has been rolling on in comments to a blog Randy posted some time ago (back in June, to be precise…) on Microsoft Essentials. Rather than go over exactly the same ground, I’d like to reiterate some points about free antivirus generally, but starting off from a question that was put in a comment to