Cyberpunk Review » Black-Hat Hacking 101: College Professor’s Course in Defeating Security

August 5, 2008

Black-Hat Hacking 101: College Professor’s Course in Defeating Security

Source: NewsWeek

California professor George Ledin doesn’t mind if his students write viruses, worms, and spyware, or spam email and bulletin boards. After all, he shows them how to bypass security wares to do such dirty work. And security software companies like McAfee are pissed, since the reportedly $5 BILLION (US) spent by companies on anti-malware packages is being rendered into money down the toilet.

That’s the point. Ledin compares the current “security” market to the cryptography scene some decades ago when the NSA ran the scene. Eventually, that technology was made publicly available to make online shopping possible. The anti-malware codes, however, are kept under corporate lock-and-key thanks to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, and the likes of McAfee and Symantec are showing no signs of letting their “trade secrets” loose.

But Ledin’s goal goes beyond making the corporate wares useless, he wants his students to think like the enemy to better devise solutions to the growing malware threat:

“Unlike biological viruses, computer viruses are written by a programmer. We want to get into the mindset: how do people learn how to do this?”

While he admits that what he teaches can do harm in the wrong hands, Ledin also believes that his course can lead to a more open (or maybe open-source) anti-malware package that’s more complete than the legacy technology being offered and used.

Only one question I have is this: WHERE DO I SIGN UP???


August 5, 2008

Utopiah said:

Pretty interesting view I agree.
I definitely do not consider any of these as pure looses or “money down the toilet”.
They are … pure Alife live research :D
Mutation (Inspiration from biological virus and parasites)
Selection (non working ones, non spreading ones)
Mutation (adapting to new protocols of new networks)
Selection (small networks, low ressources network, live protections from companies)
Mutation (using social behavior as a transmission vector)
Selection (include email protections and behavior of bashing n00bs sending chains or with outdated clients)
etc… etc.. etc.
Evolution has not stopped, we need to stop thinking human-centric.

Great article, one that couldn’t have access to the course could be interested in books like :
- yearly Alife symposiums book at
- Without Miracle : Universal Selection Theoryand the Second Darwinian Revolution by Gary Cziko at
- Virology Principles and Applications - Willey 2007
- Parasitism and Ecosystems - OUP 2005

Cheers and let’s see how life will grow ;)

Allan Drake said:

Angelina Jolie: No I’m not in your class.

August 7, 2008

Hacking - From the Classroom to the Bank said (pingback):

[…] vandalism, and felony theft.  Some trespassing is probably even a good thing - at least one computer security professor seems to think so.  By encouraging students to write their own malware and viruses, he isn’t […]

January 9, 2009

Markayi said:

lots of hacker come from a good college and they are really smart guy
i support a hacker as long as they do it not only for the money but for educations only

December 3, 2010

black hat hacking said:

A very informative article. Thank you and i hope there will be more when i come back. Cheers.

March 4, 2011

Roy said:

I recently picked up CA Computer Security and I love it… Im wondering if there are any better programs out there

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