5 of the best answers from @mikko’s reddit AMA

Security & Privacy

Fresh off his latest talk at at TEDxBrussels, our Chief Research Officer Mikko Hypponen sat down for a little session of “ask me anything” on reddit.

You can read all of the questions people had for him and answers here. WARNING: There is a lot to go through. With over 3,200 comment’s, Mikko’s AMA ranks among one of the more popular threads in the subreddit’s history.

For a quick taste of what Mikko had to say about artificial intelligence, Tor, and Edward Snowden, here are slightly edited versions of 5 of our favorite questions and answers.

How safe are current smart phones and how secure are their connections? – Jadeyard

The operating systems on our current phones (and tablets) are clearly more secure than the operating systems on our computers. That’s mostly because they are much more restricted.

Windows Phones and iOS devices don’t have a real malware problem (they still have to worry about things like phishing though). Android is the only smartphone platform that has real-world malware for it (but most of that is found in China and is coming from 3rd party app stores).

It is interesting the Android is the first Linux distribution to have a real-world malware problem.

Lots of people are afraid of the viruses and malware only simply because they are all over the news and relatively easy to explain to. I am personally more afraid of the silently allowed data mining (i.e. the amount of info Google can get their hands on) and social engineering style of “hacking”. How would you compare these two different threats and their threat levels on Average Joes point of view – which of them is more likely to cause some harm. Or is there something else to be more afraid of even more (govermental level hacks/attacks)? – BadTaster

There are different problems: problems with security and problems with privacy.

Companies like Google and Facebook make money by trying to gather as much information about you as they can. But Google and Facebook are not criminals and they are not breaking the law.

Security problems come from criminals who do break the law and who directly try to steal from you with attacks like banking trojans or credit card keyloggers.

Normal, everyday people do regularily run into both problems. I guess getting hit by a criminal attack is worse, but getting your privacy eroded is not a laughing matter either.

Blanket surveillance of the internet also affects us all. But comparing these threats to each other is hard.

Hi, Mikko! Do you subscribe to Elon Musk’s statements and conceptions of AI being the single biggest threat to humans? – matti80

Elon is the man. I’ve always thought of Tony Stark as my role model and Elon is the closest thing we have in the real world.

And he’s right. Artificial Intelligence is scary.

I believe introducing an entity with superior intelligence into your own biosphere is a basic evolutionary mistake.

Europol’s cybercrime taskforce recently took down over a hundred darknet servers. Did the news shake your faith in TOR? – brain4narchy

People use Tor for surfing the normal web anonymized, and they use Tor Hidden Service for running websites that are only accessible for Tor users.

Both Tor use cases can be targeted by various kinds of attacks. Just like anywhere else, there is no absolute security in Tor either.

I guess the takedown showed more about capabilities of current law enforcement than anything else.

I use Tor regularly to gain access to sites in the Tor Hidden Service, but for protecting my own privacy, I don’t rely on Tor. I use VPNs instead. In addition to providing you an exit node from another location, VPNs also encrypt your traffic. However, Tor is free and it’s open source. Most VPNs are closed source, and you have to pay for them. And you have to rely on the VPN provider, so choose carefully. We have a VPN product of our own, which is what I use.

If you ever met Snowden what would be the first question you would ask him? – SaPro19

‘What would you like to drink? It’s on me.’

Cheers,

Sandra

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