TED Talks – Misha Glenny: Hire the hackers!


Link to TED video: http://www.ted.com/talks/misha_glenny_hire_the_hackers.html

Misha_GlennyIn this talk, Misha Glenny addresses the issues of cybersecurity and hackers. He points out that we spend a lot of money trying to create these software programs to keep hackers out of our businesses, but we fail to look at the root of the problem. The problem isn’t that businesses aren’t well protected, but that they are being hacked by a hacker. Instead of spending money on improving software, more money should be going into psychological profiles of hackers to see what makes one, and how do we stop them. Glenny also makes the argument that if we cannot stop hackers, we should use them for our benefit by hiring them.

“There are two types of companies in the world: those that know they’ve been hacked, and those that don’t.” This quote is interesting because it assumes that all companies have been hacked. The only difference is that whether or not the company is aware that this has already happened to them. Hacking is something that affects everybody’s life.

“How do you trust somebody on the web who you want to do business with, when you know that they’re a criminal?” The Internet provides a level of anonymity. This anonymity can be used for good or for evil. Some people like to be able to shop on the Internet without having to deal with the pressure of a sales clerk. However, bad people can also utilize the anonymity provided by the web to prey on unsuspecting people.

“Despite the fact that we are beginning to pour hundreds of billions of dollars into cybersecurity for the most extraordinary technical solutions, no one wants to talk to these guys, the hackers, who are doing everything. Instead we prefer the dazzling technological solutions which cost a huge amount of money. So nothing is going into the hackers.” Cybersecurity is analogous to airport security. Since 9/11 we have spent a lot of money on security at the airport in order to prevent one terrorist from getting through. Companies are spending a lot of money trying to keep out one hacker who may or may not be able to cause a lot of damage. At some point, it is no longer economical because it wastes good resources to protect the company. These same resources could be invested into creating new products.

“Certain disabilities can manifest themselves in the hacking and computing world as tremendous skills, and we should not be throwing in jail people who have such disabilities and skills because they have lost their way socially or been duped.” This quote is confusing because it assumes that all hackers are individuals who have social problems. Recent cyberattacks actually originated from government agencies in China. So not all hackers are social misfits.

“We need to engage and find ways of offering guidance to these young people because they are a remarkable breed, and if we rely as we do at the moment solely on the criminal justice system and the threat of punitive sentences, we will be nurturing a monster we cannot tame.” I disagree with this statement. For instance, a terrorist might be highly skilled at creating a bomb. Simply because they are highly skilled doesn’t mean we should engage them and offer them guidance so that we can use their bomb-making technology for other purposes. Some people have evil intent and must be stopped. I don’t think that all hackers can or want to be rehabilitated. So the problem is more complicated therefore it requires a more complicated solution then just offering guidance to these young people.


Glenny, Misha. “Hire the Hackers!” Online video clip.
TED Talks, Sept. 2011. Web. 8 Apr. 2013.


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