Bombmaking and Cupcakes

When the “bad guys” are in fact the “good guys”

Spies hack al-Qaida's Inspire magazine

Friday, Jun 3, 2011 09:41 ET

Spies hack al-Qaida’s Inspire magazine: British intelligence agents replace bombmaking instructions with cupcake recipe

URL:   – PAISLEY DODDS, Associated Press

I have always been fascinated by the fine line separating good and bad in cyber security. Admittedly we tend to see the security world in black and white. On one side we have the “bad guys” doing any sort of “bad things” such as planting malware or hacking websites. On the other we have the “good guys” trying to stop them from getting away with their wrong doings. Well, as it turns out sometime the “bad guys” are in fact the “good guys” trying to stop the real bad guys from doing really bad things. Confused?Case in point: British intelligence agents hack al-Qaida’s website and replace bombmaking instructions with cupcake recipe. While it is not a surprise that intelligence organizations around the world use cybertools as part of their work, I always wondered how they maintain their leading edge, how they gain knowledge of zero day vulnerabilities and, in the end, at what extent governments are in fact indirectly funding the cybercrime underworld. Knowledge of  Zero day vulnerabilities is worth millions – if not tens of millions – in the black market. What kind of organizations do you think can afford to buy this expensive know-how? Intrigued by the topic? Speak your mind. Leave a comment.

About Cesare Garlati
Co-Founder, Hex Five Security, Inc. - Chief Technologist prpl Foundation

One Response to Bombmaking and Cupcakes

  1. Martin says:

    We can only claim “to do the right things” when we stay within the legal bounderies.
    Hacking a foreign website and midfying its content is, in most civilized countries, illegal.
    When British intelligence services had a judges call, that allowed them this activity, then it is legal.
    In case they had not, then it was illegal, even their intent was good.

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