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Academics and grey-hat bug-hunters are a lot more alike than they care to admit.
This is according to Anita Nikolich, a computer science fellow with the Illinois Institute of Technology and former cybersecurity head at the National Science Foundation.
Problem - Gulf - World - University - Researchers
The problem, he said, is a gulf between the academic world of university researchers pushing papers and the "underground" world of hobbyist hackers, bug hunters and grey-hat researchers who actually hammer on products.
Traditionally, academic research was seen as more theoretical and abstract, while underground hacking dealt with breaking actual products. More recently, however, the two areas have increasingly overlapped, and many would be hard pressed to tell the agenda of DefCon from that of an academic security conference.
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"It struck me as ironic that over the past 10 years it is getting harder to tell the difference," Nikolich mused. "Academic and non-academic research have become indistinguishable from one another."
This has lead to some missed opportunities in recent years. For example, last year's work at the DefCon voting village touched on problems academic security researchers have known about for years without the public noticing,...
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