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ZDNet: Why the world needs reverse engineers

Oct 09, 2000, 20:22 (4 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Weld Pond)

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"It sounds backwards. It sounds devious. But it is about analysis: taking things apart, potentially breaking them, to find out how they work; opening up the hood, seeing what parts are inside and how they are connected. And, although it sounds somewhat less noble than "engineering," the world needs reverse engineers and needs them badly. We especially need the ones who are will to share what they find publicly, for free."

"Companies don't like it when people take apart their products to see how they work. They would like it if their products were treated as black boxes. ... What are they hiding in there? Companies are hiding a lot of things: their mistakes, security vulnerabilities, privacy violations and trade secrets. Usually, if someone finds out how a product works by reverse engineering, the product will be less valuable. Companies think they have everything to lose with reverse engineering. This may be true, but the rest of the world has much to gain."

"Many of the privacy risks we face today such as the unique computer identification numbers in Microsoft Office documents, the sneaky collection of data by Real Jukebox, or the use of Web bugs and cookies to track users were only discovered by opening up the hood and seeing how things really work. Companies do not publish this kind of information publicly."

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