Kiwi hacker scores top billing

LAS VEGAS BOUND: Graeme Neilson is an expert on anti hacking strategies.
LAS VEGAS BOUND: Graeme Neilson is an expert on anti hacking strategies.

Graeme Neilson's hacking skills have scored him centre-stage billing at the world's biggest security conference in Las Vegas next month.

A security consultant for Wellington firm Aura Software Security, Mr Neilson's work involves trying to hack into clients' computer systems and applications to test if they are secure.

Attempted hacking is very common, he says.

"People's systems are being probed all the time. Hacking has moved from people doing it for recognition or bragging rights and it's now big business for criminals."

Mr Neilson was chosen to give a presentation at the Black Hat conference because of his work exposing a security flaw in a network security application developed by Nasdaq-listed firm Juniper Networks.

"It's a pretty big coup if you're in the security industry; it's the biggest security conference in the world."

He says he is happy hacking on the right side of the law. "I get paid to do it this way. My interest isn't obtaining data, it's more the challenge of investigating exploits or bugs. It's finding holes that haven't been found before that give you access to systems you shouldn't have access to."

Aura managing director Andy Prow says the firm advises large banks, corporates and government agencies on the safety of their systems. "Companies and government agencies are moving more and more online and if they're adding value to what people can do online the cost to the business of being hacked increases."

Mr Neilson says people are impressed by his job. "It's got a certain mystique about it until I start talking about the nitty-gritty."

The Dominion Post