Monday, January 5, 2009

Frank W. Abagnale and the irony of security industry

If you remember that name then most probably you have seen the epic movie Catch me if you Can starring Leonardo DeCaprio and Tom Hanks. In short, the movie is about this guy Frank Abagnale, (played by DeCaprio) who figures out novel ways to commit check fraud and embezzle money posing as various people (as a pilot, as a doctor and as a lawyer). The movie is all about how the hacker mindset works and is a must watch if you are in the information security field. The movie is replete with examples of social engineering tricks that determined hackers so often use. Its a good way to train ones thinking in the ways of the hacker.

This movie not a work of fiction but is based upon a real guy who did these things in real life. This is the website of the real Frank Abagnale, who is now, not surprisingly, one of the world's most respected authorities on the subjects of forgery, embezzlement and secure documents. Check out his website for more details on his lifes work in the last 30 years. Ironically, the guy who literally started check-fraud has been at the helm of defending against it for the better part of his life.

This irony presents itself in the security industry again and again with the guys who now defend the world were the ones who were once defended against. There is nothing wrong with it and maybe thats the way it should be but i just found the thought very interesting.