We Give Our Enemies Too Much Credit

Thinking back on last week’s NISC8 Conference, I have to admit to an uncomfortable feeling that we’ve been giving far too much credit to criminals, terrorists and spies. It’s bad enough using respectable-sounding labels such as high-tech or white-collar crime. But I also heard several speakers making remarks such as “these people are smart” and “you need a holistic approach because they’ll find your weakest point”. This is not my experience, nor of leading authorities such as Donn Parker, who spent many years interviewing convicted computer criminals. They are rarely smart and seldom versatile, tending to operate with a narrow modus operandi. So let’s not give them the respectability they don’t deserve.

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Hi David, Once again it is a pleasure to read an item that evokes the need for a response - I always enjoy reading about people who become experts because they 'have interviewed' criminals. To believe this, one must presume the 'criminal' is telling the interviewer the truth. Hmmmm....there is a reason the person is a 'criminal', and that generally involves a bit of deceit (i.e., LIES), but let's not get sidetracked, nor do I wish for my note to be derogatory towards Mr Parker or anyone else who seeks to find the holy grail by interviewing criminals. For if it weren't for such interviews, we would all be the worse for knowledge. Some criminlas actually 'must' tell someone everything, even more than everything . . . some distort the truth . . .and some don't know the truth because it has been part of their nature to deceive. My point, David, it is dangerous to presume an interview of someone convicted of a crime is the truth, and even more dangerous to presume the reporter reports what was actually said, or what was 'heard' (you may have heard what you thought I said, but what I said is not what you heard). Again, not being critical - but providing what I know to be true based on experience having 'done this work on the street' as an FBI Agent. I appreciate your providing space to respond - and more importantly, am grateful you report what you know to be the truth. Most sincerely, Ed Edward P Gibson Chief cyber Security Advisor Microsoft Ltd UK EdGibson@Microsoft.com