Ethical hacker reveals secrets of underground world

And how cloaks and daggers expose merchant bankers

A 20-year-old Brit who hacked into the Web sites of two merchant banks last week can never be prosecuted. Chris McNab, who says he has "one foot in the underground and one foot in the corporate world", claims to have one of the best jobs in the IT industry. He is an ethical hacker for Kent-based MIS Corporate Defence Solutions. McNab, whose goes by the official title of network security analyst at MIS, gets to break into top banking and multinational Web sites for a living. "Last week I broke into two merchant banks. This job's fantastic," he grins. For £850 per day, MIS tests companies' sites to see how much damage a hacker could wreak - tests normally take three to four days. MIS then tries to sell them firewalls or Web security systems. "I'm there to emulate hackers on the Internet… I need to be aware of all the techniques hackers use and have to identify all the ways into sites," says McNab. He claims he can gain access to most sites in less than half an hour. The professional penetrator, who left school at 17 with ten GCSEs, worked in systems administration before landing the job at MIS in January. When not cracking commerce's high-security codes, McNab spends his time brushing up on the latest hacking techniques. He spends hours in online chat-rooms watching for hints, or logs onto Web sites such as hackers' bibles Hackers.com and Packetstorm.securify.com. "It's quite cloak and dagger stuff," he admits. ® Related stories New Web site security scanner will read your HDD Hackers can make your PC explode Watch out! There's a cyberterrorist about!

Sponsored: 5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup