Ira Winkler - Dream Job


Each week, the USA TODAY Online Career Center asks celebrities, businesspeople and folks who are just plain happy in their work exactly what makes their jobs great.

This week: How would you like to be paid to access private information and steal billions of dollars from companies - legally? Meet corporate espionage expert, cybersleuth and ZDTV's Spy Files columnist Ira Winkler.

Q: How did you obtain this job?

A: I guess I would call what I have more of a career or identity than a job. I got the reputation of being a "Modern Day James Bond" because of my success in performing penetration tests. I lucked into my first penetration test and was able to take over a very large bank by just calling them up and asking questions. I wrote a paper about how I accomplished it, and people started calling it the seminal work on social engineering. From that paper, people started to call me to perform other assignments.

After I achieved some notoriety, many people started claiming that they do the same types of penetration tests that I do. The reality of the situation was that they just break into computers, which is actually very easy. Then they might look in people's offices and steal passwords. I am the only person who has consistently demonstrated the ability to steal billions of dollars within several hours, using advanced human and technical espionage techniques.

[This type of characterization of pen testing, under any label, is the same crap that movies peddle to us. Ira Winkler's own words make him seem more fit for Hackers than the security field. The repeated claims of "stealing billions" from any business are absurd, just as his claims of using "advanced human" techniques are anything other than social engineering that many companies routinely perform on engagements.]

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