The 3 biggest network security superheroes

In this three-part series, expertIP is exploring the good, the bad and the ugly of security threats. First up: those who have helped to identify international threats, bring down hackers and even save the world

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While high-profile network security breaches are making headlines almost daily, most of the news reports focus on the hackers behind the attacks and the damages caused by the breaches. This article focuses on the crime fighters behind the scenes – or the individuals and organizations who have helped to bring down hackers and make global networks secure.

Here are three of the biggest superheroes of network security:

1. Alan Turing: Father of Computer Science and WWII Codebreaker

The Bombe (1943): Photo source

A discussion of the biggest superheroes of network security has to start with Alan Turing, as his achievements have paved the way for all things IT. Turing, a British mathematician, is considered to be the father of computer science and artificial intelligence. During World War II, he worked with a team of codebreakers who deciphered Nazi naval messages. The Nazis coded their messages using the Enigma machine, which would scramble plain text so only someone who knew the exact settings of the Enigma could read them. Turing designed a supercomputer called the Bombe, which quickly cracked Enigma codes and was widely used throughout the war.

The Allies used information from the cracked codes, called ULTRA, to prevent attacks. Many historians believe that Turing’s invention saved the world one to two years of war. According to the History Channel, Winston Churchill said “It was thanks to ULTRA that we won the war.”

Turing also left an incredible legacy to computer science, as his supercomputer paved the way for today’s computers. However, Turing’s achievements have only recently been recognized. In 1952, he was arrested for engaging in a consensual homosexual act, which was illegal in Britain at the time. He was given the choice of jail or undergoing experimental hormonal treatments to reduce his libido. He chose chemical castration and died shortly after the treatments ended. It is widely believed that he committed suicide. 

2. Dmitri Alperovitch: Uncovered Major Cyber Espionage Attacks

Photo source 

Dimitri Alperovitch is best known for his work as the vice president of threat research at McAfee, where he led the team that investigated a string of recent cybercrimes. His team uncovered and named Operation Shady RAT and Operation Aurora, which Vanity Fair called “the most significant and potentially damaging acts of cyber-espionage yet made public.”

Alperovitch’s team also identified and named Night Dragon, a major string of attacks that started in 2009 and targeted companies in the energy sector. According to McAfee’s website, “the attackers targeted proprietary operations and project-financing information on oil and gas field bids and operations. This information is highly sensitive and can make or break multibillion dollar deals in this extremely competitive industry.”

Alperovitch has also advised international policymakers, intelligence and senior White House officials on matters of network security. In 2011, he received the Federal 100 Award for his contributions to federal information security.

Alperovitch is currently the co-founder and chief technology officer at CrowdStrike, a security startup focused on helping enterprises and governments protect their intellectual property and secrets against cyberespionage threats.

3. Trend Micro: Helped Bring Down Biggest Botnet Ring in History

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In 2007, an Estonian company, Rove Digital, unleashed a botnet Trojan that infected about four million computers in more than 100 countries. The DNS Changer botnet targeted computers within enterprises and government agencies and changed their DNS settings to point to malicious websites with rogue advertising. DNS Changer generated approximately $14 million in revenue for the hackers.

Trend Micro, assisted the FBI in bringing down DNS Changer, which was believed to be the biggest botnet ring in history. According to the cloud security provider’s website, “We at Trend Micro knew what party was most likely behind the DNS Changer botnet since 2006. We decided to hold certain data and knowledge we had from publication in order to allow the law enforcement agencies to take proper legal action against the cybercriminals behind it.”

Over the years, Trend Micro built an impressive amount of evidence against Rove Digital, which helped the FBI apprehend the individuals behind the botnet attacks.

Develop your own superhero skills by reading, “The Next Generation of Cybercrime: How it’s evolved, where it’s going.”

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