Mafiaboy, White Hat Superstars Team With HP To Drive Advances Aimed At Stemming Tide Of Cybersecurity Threats

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A trio of security researcher superstars -- including a one-time legendary teen hacker known as “Mafiaboy” who brought down some of the most popular sites on the internet, and a medical researcher who exposed a security hole that led to the recall of a half-million pacemakers -- are joining an HP Security Advisory Board aimed at making advances in the war against hackers.

HP announced the new panel of white hat security superstars at the start of its Reinvent worldwide partner conference Monday as part of its ongoing effort to deliver what it calls the most secure PCs and printers on the market. The members of the new board are chartered with providing "strategic input to HP's leadership team and security experts.

The three security superstars, who will receive honorariums for their service, include:

Michael Calce, who received the moniker "Mafiaboy" when as a 15-year-old in 2000 he shut down eBay, Yahoo and ETrade and others with a series of attacks. Calce – the chairman of the HP Security Advisory Board -- is now a white hat hacker who does penetration testing for companies.

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Justine Bone, CEO of MedSec, whose firm exposed a security hole that led to the recall just last month by the U.S Food and Drug Administration of 496,000 pacemakers from Abbott, which has issued a firmware update. Bone is a controversial figure given her decision to proactively expose medical threats.

Robert Masse, who has been helping businesses stop security breaches as a strategic consultant for 20 years. Masse – who owned his own security consulting business – has agreed to donate his honorarium to charity and is participating separately from his duties as a partner for Deloitte Canada.

Calce, who recruited other security researchers for the assignment, said he was inspired to join the board in part by HP's commitment to "look at different angles" to create more secure products. "It was a natural pairing for us to team up and advocate [improved] security together," he said.

The board is not a symbolic gesture but rather a real-world panel to help HP create more secure products, said Calce. "There is no smoke and mirrors here," he said. "The members I assembled are to offer the best advice and input that we possibly can for HP to really develop the most secure products that will impact the world and negate what is going on in terms of hacking worldwide."

Calce, who already has been in the field working with several HP solution providers and their sales reps to increase awareness of security threats, said his independent third-party perspective as a security researcher has helped drive home the need for improved security in products such as printers. 

"A lot of people are oblivious to the risks involved with printers," he said. "People don’t realize how a printer has evolved. … It has an OS, BIOS and firmware. It is a computer on the network. People fail to realize that."

Stephanie Dismore, HP’s vice president and general manager, Americas channels, said the Security Advisory Board is a big differentiator for HP partners. "It is hugely significant because we will have the cutting-edge advice, knowledge and transformational input to drive our innovation and provide our partners with the right level of information to talk to their customers," she said.

In the case of one national solution provider, HP pulled together a comprehensive security sales training initiative that included Calce and then backed it up with spiffs and other sales incentives. "It was one of the most exciting programs I have ever seen launched at one of our partners," she said.

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