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

Twitter and I

I just received another request to follow me on Twitter on a protected account, so perhaps it's time I clarified what all those accounts that are and aren't in my signature are for. @dharleyatESET is a protected account largely for work purposes.  I only accept requests to follow from people who really need to know

Unnamed App: it’s the SEO that matters, not the app

As more information and discussion has come in on this, it now merits an update in its own right. It seems that there is at least one other unnamed app around as well as the Boxes issue, and while I've no reason to assume that it's malicious, I'd hardly advise that you rush into installing

Verified by Visa – Pushmi‑pullyu*

* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pushmi-pullyu#The_Pushmi-pullyu In an article in the Register with the eye-catching title of "Verified by Visa bitchslapped by Cambridge researchers", John Leyden comments on the argument by Cambridge researchers Ross Anderson and Steve Murdoch that the 3D Secure system, better known as Verified by Visa or Mastercard Securecode is better suited to shifting liability for

Unnamed App Facebook Scam

[Update: There's been quite a lot of discussion and extra information coming in on this. It seems to me that there is at least one unnamed app around as well as the Boxes issue, and while I've no reason to assume that it's malicious, I'd hardly advise that you rush into installing an application when

Generalist Anti‑Malware Product Testing

We have just come across a Buyer’s Guide published in the March 2010 issue of PC Pro Magazine, authored by Darien Graham-Smith, PC Pro’s Technical Editor. The author aims to give advice on which anti-malware product is the best for consumer users, and we  acknowledge that the article includes some good thoughts and advice, but

Ten Ways to Dodge Cyber‑Bullets (Part 5)

[Part 5 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.] Trust People, Not Addresses Don’t trust unsolicited files or embedded links, even from friends. It’s easy to spoof email addresses, for instance,

We are not Zimused – a few updates

My colleague Juraj Malcho, head of lab in Bratislava, has clarified a point: what Zimuse actually does is fill the first 50Kb of a targeted disk with zeroes (actually the 0x00 character): This does indeed overwrite the MBR, but also overwrites anything else that occupies that area of the disk. The malware came to ESET's attention because

Bemused by Zimuse? (Dis is not one half)

Now here's a curiosity. Win32/Zimuse is a worm that exists in two variants, innovatively entitled Win32/Zimuse.A and Win32/Zimuse.B. In some ways it's a throwback to an earlier age, since it overwrites the Master Boot Record on drives attached to an infected system with its own data, so that data on the system becomes inaccessible without the

Nice Smartphone, Mr. Darcy: Fact, Fiction & the Internet

OK, I'll save the novel for another time. However, there's a rather less ambitious snippet of my recent writing at http://www.eurograduate.com/article.asp?id=3015&pid=1, an article called "Fact, Fiction and the Internet," and, further to some of my recent posts here, touches on the dangers of social networking. Though you might think that someone with as many twitter

Haiti: more resources

Jeff Debrosse, ESET's Senior Director of Research, has published some further resources on his personal blog at http://jeffdebrosse.wordpress.com/2010/01/15/haiti-info-and-update/ (help resources and security resources). As he explains there, Jeff is personally and emotionally closer to this tragedy than most of us, and I hope that his family all turn up safe and sound. I've also received pointers to

Haiti Help Resources

Update: more resources I picked up on  a security list just now (I'm drowning in email here!) Apologies for any duplication. Update 2: more additions below. @imaguid pointed out in a microblog that there's a pattern to the use of social engineering around disasters like the Haiti earthquake:  "first comes the tragedy, then malware purveyors exploiting the

Ten Ways to Dodge Cyber‑Bullets (Part 4)

[Part 4 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.] Good Password Practice Use different passwords for your computer and on-line services. Also, it’s good practice to change passwords on a regular basis

Anti‑Malware: Last One Out, Please Turn Off The Lights

It doesn't surprise me when someone says, like David Einstein of the San Francisco Chronicle, that there's no need for a Mac user to run anti-virus software. Though the most usual reason I see given is that there aren't any Mac viruses. (There are, but nowadays the main reason to run anti-malware on any platform

Pre/Post Infection Detection

I just noticed a blog on "Security vendor’s “top-threat” list proof for their less-than-perfect performance?" at http://hype-free.blogspot.com/2010/01/security-vendors-top-threat-list-proof.html. The essential point seems to be that periodic virus detection statistics (like our monthly ThreatSense reports) are likely to be based in part on infections spotted on a protected machine when a signature/update is released that wasn't available

Malware Classification and The Lovely Bones

You might have noticed that there are certain issues that press my buttons: the Beeb's botnet, Mac myopia, using Virus Total as a substitute for comparative detection testing. And malware naming, an issue on which I've blogged several times recently. http://www.eset.com/threat-center/blog/2010/01/09/today-we-have-naming-of-err-malware-1 http://avien.net/blog/?p=121 The estimable Kurt Wismer has taken me to task – well, Tom Kelchner

BBC Click: Net scams and jobseekers

You may have gathered from some of the blogs published here last year that i'm not biggest fan of the BBC's "Click" programme. I regard the Beeb's forays into buying botnets and stolen credit card details and making active use of them as at best naive. I agree that people need to be aware of such issues,

AMTSOlute Elsewhere

We're now getting into preparations for the next meeting of AMTSO (Anti-Malware Testing Standards Organization), on 25th-26th February in Santa Clara. In the meantime, I wrote an article for Virus Bulletin called "AMTSOlutely Fabulous" about "the story so far". It's just appeared in the January edition of the magazine. Of course, it's only available to subscribers

Today We Have Naming of… err, Malware… [1]

Sunbelt have responded to an article in Infosecurity about what I described way back in the early 90s (when putting together the alt.comp.virus FAQ) as the “thorny issue of malware naming”. Well, I’ve been banging the drum about educating users and pretty much everyone else away from the concept that malware naming is useful for quite

UK National Identity Database

The Register reports that "Home Secretary Alan Johnson has confirmed that the National Identity Register contains National Insurance numbers and answers to 'shared secrets'." See: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/01/07/id_register_includes_ni_numbers/ Johnson was responding to a parliamentary question about "what information will be held on the National Identity Register which is not held on the UK Passport Database." Inevitably, there

End of Year, End of Decade

As our December ThreatSense report (now available at http://www.eset.com/threat-center/threat_trends/Global_Threat_Trends_December_2009.pdf) was not only the last of the year but the last of the decade, it's rather longer and more detailed than usual, including a look back at the last 12 months. I suppose we could have gone back over the whole decade, but I have to