back to article Hey boffin, take a walk on the wild side: Stuffy academics need to let out their inner black hat

Academics and grey-hat bug-hunters are a lot more alike than they care to admit. This is according to Anita Nikolich, a computer science fellow with the Illinois Institute of Technology and former cybersecurity head at the National Science Foundation in the US. The problem, he said, is a gulf between the academic world of …

  1. JohnFen

    Is this a new thing?

    I've been a "hacker" for decades, and in the past have never noticed a serious gulf between academic security researchers and non-academic security researchers. Yes, they each have their own different playgrounds, but I've not noticed cases where either side simply discounts the other's efforts. More typically, they have each informed the other.

    Has this changed and I didn't notice?

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Is this a new thing?


      Methinks Anita should climb down off her ivory tower & take a look at what's been going on in the trenches this last half century.

      Management with blinders on is why we can't have nice things.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Is this a new thing?

        Paraphrasing -

        Article: Academic says, Academia and non-academia are not communicating very well

        Post 1: All looks fine from here, has something changed?

        Post 2: I agree, its all fine, academic should get off her high horse and realise everything's fine

        This post: ...errrr...

  2. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

    In a different sense, I agree

    There IS a general perception that crackers/"hackers" are super-IT geeks.

    Having watched a coupla CtF challenges just a few feet away, I'd say that only a tiny tiny fraction of them are. But that there is a HUGE body of enthusiasts with almost Zero Clue re computers who are sharing pre-rolled techniques and can, as a result, pull out some cracks which had even this aging jaded fart blinking with startlement.

    The hands-on practical-only "grunts" (heard a couple ask for help to install linux) are now in a position to do casually the sort of cracks that even 10yrs ago were strictly the work of the masters.

    It's all just parrot-fashion kneejerk stuff ("If I see THIS string, I run THIS tool", etc) and they have no idea why any of it works. But the point is, it DOES. And they can DO it.

    In that sense, any toning-down of any "we're special and you have to be smart to be as good as us" attitude would be very much a good thing for the wider world's opsec.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: In a different sense, I agree

      Skiddies are skiddies, and outside the scope of this conversation.

      1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

        Re: In a different sense, I agree

        > skiddies

        That used to be my attitude too. I've learned better -- in the last few years, while I wasn't looking, there's been a step-change UP in the capabilities on the one hand, and a step-change DOWN in the required intellect on the other.


        And no, it's not really outside scope. My point was that the point of the topic/article was missing the point. The academics are playing in a tiny tiny theoretical pointy-end. Overlap with practitioners there is all well and good, but the actual Material Risk is now massively expanded into donkey territory, and in not just numbers but sheer accessibility which are both hair-raising.

        I'm not communicating this terribly well. Put it this way: on watching these chaps (not kids, btw) whom I'd spoken to at length beforehand and was quite bemused as to why on earth such computer illiterates were here, carve up and into well-protected systems via constant refs to cracker websites and "standard" techniques&tools, gradually gave me actual chills, scalp prickling. And I'm quite jaded, not easily ruffled.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: In a different sense, I agree

          Skiddies are outside the scope of this conversation because they are not, by any stretch of the imagination, researchers. Paint-by-numbers doth not an Old Master make.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021