David Harley | WeLiveSecurity


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

PIN Money

Further to an earlier blog about the "broken" Chip & PIN credit card security system (strictly speaking, the primary problem described is with EMV), it's noticeable that, as John Leyden puts it, "Industry groups [have] leap[t] to Chip and PIN's defence." In fact, the response has been a bit more mixed than that. But there

Fake Conficker Alerts

Urban Schrott, IT Security & Cybercrime Analyst at ESET Ireland, reports seeing more e-mail pretending to be from Microsoft is circulating, "warning" computer users that "Conflicker" is again spreading rapidly. ESET's ThreatSense engine identifies the malware as Win32/Kryptik.CLU trojan, and running it would result in further malware infections. Here's an example Urban quotes of one


We seem to have pointed out rather often recently that giving away lots of information on Facebook, Twitter and other social network sites isn't a good idea. PleaseRobMe claims, somewhat amusingly, to be a resource for burglars, saving them the trouble of searching through Twitter and Foursquare for information on whose house is currently unoccupied. In

Hoaxes and semi-hoaxes

Eveline Goy commented on a previous blog on "When is a hoax not a hoax?", and I thought it was too good a comment to let it lie unnoticed. Dear Mr Harley You might be interested to know that the MISSING GIRL email re Rachelle Marie Smith is now being distributed in Australia.   Of course

I Have a Little (Wild)List*

* http://math.boisestate.edu/gas/mikado/webopera/mk105a.html Kevin Townsend posted a blog in response to a piece by Mike Rothman at Securosis. Mike’s piece on “The Death of Product Reviews” makes some pretty good points about security product reviews in general. Kevin’s piece is more specific to anti-malware. He too makes some useful discussion points about the value or otherwise

Infected CD: update

  Here's a little more information about the CD that caused the trouble described at http://www.eset.com/threat-center/blog/2010/02/16/infected-drivers-cd, It came with a motherboard bought by the customer from Newegg. They say that when they called Newegg and told them about the CD, they sent links to download clean drivers. It's may be, therefore, that the problem lies with Newegg rather

Infected Drivers CD?

Here's some news from the ESET Virus Lab in Slovakia. One of our clients encountered an interesting infection within his network. The problem seemed to originate from the drivers CD that comes with the device he bought, the Habey BIS-6550HD, a fanless Atom-powered system, though we haven't seen the CD itself. Our analysis of the

Cascading False Positives

 Security researchers work together and share information in many ways and in many contexts that aren't constrained by company boundaries, but it's unusual for security researchers working for different vendors to join forces in a company blog. However, John Leyden of The Register contacted us both when he was writing an article on the controversy following

iPhones, jailbreaking and blocked Apple IDs

[Update: The Register's John Leyden has also commented on the issue at http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/02/16/apple_bans_iphone_hackers/] There's been a burst of interest in the last day or so in the blocking of certain Apple IDs from the iTunes App Store. Some bloggers have suggested that this might be a precursor to a massive blocking of jailbroken phones from accessing

Has Chip & PIN Had Its Chips?

[Update: added some extra links at http://avien.net/blog/?p=422] Here, so to speak, is a bit of hot potato*. Flippancy notwithstanding, this isn't really funny. For several years now, Brits have enjoyed a banking card system called chip and PIN, a simple form of two-factor authentication for in-person credit and debit card transactions. In countries where the

iPhishing – gathering iPhone data

As posted a few minutes ago on Mac Virus, Dancho Danchev has posted information on a phishing campaign where the bad guys are impersonating Apple in order to steal sensitive device information from iPhone users. Dancho’s post, which has lots of other links, is at: http://blogs.zdnet.com/security/?p=5460&tag=col1;post-5460 David Harley CISSP FBCS CITP Director of Malware Intelligence ESET

Ten Ways to Dodge Cyber-Bullets (Part 8)

[Part 8 of an occasional series, updating a blog series I ran in early 2009 to reflect changes in the threat landscape. This series will also be available shortly as a white paper.] Anti-Virus isn’t Total Security Don’t expect antivirus alone to protect you from everything. Use additional measures such as a personal firewall, antispam and

Valentine Scams: Romancing the Stony-Hearted

As we've seen so many times before, cybercriminals are not ashamed to exploit horrors like the Haiti earthquake or 9/11, so it would be naive to expect them not to make use of our warmer sentiments, too. My colleague Urban Schrott at ESET Ireland has just blogged a cautionary note on that very topic.  I recently blogged

NOD32 Antivirus for Mac: Some Questions

These are a few questions relating to ESET's antivirus scanner for OS X, which is currently in beta, that I was asked in response to a post at Mac Virus. (If you want to take the beta out for a spin, you can still download it at http://beta.eset.com/macosx.) As these questions are very ESET-specific, I

Ten Ways to Dodge Cyber-Bullets (Part 7)

[Part 7 of an occasional series, updating a blog series I ran in early 2009 to reflect changes in the threat landscape. This series will also be available shortly as a white paper.] Call For Backup If sensitive information is stored on your hard drive (and if you don’t have something worth protecting on your system,

Mac Virus Resurgent

No, I'm not talking about a newly-discovered and virulent OS X upconversion of SevenDust or AutoStart 9805. Mac Virus is a site founded by Susan Lesch in the 1990s, when pre-OS X Mac-specific malware was still a serious issue – AutoStart in particular caused significant damage back then – and cross-platform macro viruses were also a major

Fake Firefoxfur

There's an interesting post by Lee Graves about fake Firefox updates that actually push adware. It's pretty comprehensive, and lots of other blogs have picked up on it, so I won't rehash the issue here. However, I notice that The Register have credited us with the story (though they may have changed it by the

Kaspersky, Virus Total, and Unacceptable Shortcuts

Larry Seltzer posted an interesting item yesterday.  The article on "SW Tests Show Problems With AV Detections " is  based on an "Analyst's Diary" entry called "On the way to better testing." Kaspersky did something rather interesting, though a little suspect. They created 20 perfectly innocent executable files, then created fake detections for ten of them.

Two New White Papers

Two new papers have gone up on the ESET White Papers page at http://www.eset.com/download/whitepapers.php. (Strictly speaking, they're not altogether new: they include some material that has previously been blogged here.) The Internet Book of the Dead is a bit different from other papers you’ll find on the ESET white papers page. (Technically, it’s not actually

Ten Ways to Dodge Cyber-Bullets (Part 6)

[Part 6 of an occasional series, updating a blog series I ran in early 2009 to reflect changes in the threat landscape. This series will also be available shortly as a white paper.] Social Networks Can Be Very Anti-Social Don’t disclose sensitive information on websites like FaceBook or LinkedIn if you can’t be sure that you