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Hackers help get news out of Iran

Protesters are using hackers' tools to help get the news out of Iran following the public protests over last week's presidential election, according to security expert Bruce Schneier.

Citizens and journalists are using anonymity tools to protect their identities and proxy server tools to connect to blogging services such as Twitter.

These techniques have demonstrated the power of social media to influence international politics.

Iranian opposition groups have used hacker-style denial of service attacks against the government.

This proves that, like all technologies, there are good uses for hackers' tools, as well as bad, Schneier told a security awareness conference in London this morning.

Schneier, chief security technology officer at BT, was speaking in a debate at the event organised by the European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA).

He believes that it is short-sighted for governments to block technologies such as anonymity tools just because they can be used by cybercriminals.

Every technology has the potential to be put to good and bad use, but society survives because the "good guys overwhelm the bad", he said.

Schneier expressed concern that state control of the internet continues to increase steadily around the world, limiting its use for good as well as bad.

It is not just countries such as China where state control of the internet is increasing, he said, but in western democracies too.

The intentions are good, such as combating illegal images, but Schneier said some of the methods used have the effect of limiting the freedom of the internet.

He questioned the wisdom of China's decision to mandate anti-porn censorship and software on every PC sold in the country.

This is like built-in botnet software on every computer in China, said Schneier, which could potentially be exploited by cybercriminals.


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