Security industry veteran and itinerant hacker Peiter Zatko decided this week to rejoin Internet pioneer BBN Technologies Inc. as a research scientist.
Better known in security circles as Mudge, Zatko was one of the founding members of the L0pht Heavy Industries hacking team that later became the technical heart of @stake Inc. He left @stake several years ago and stayed away from the security industry for a while before resurfacing last year as the founding scientist at Intrusic Inc., a Waltham, Mass., startup.
At BBN, Zatko is getting back to his roots in a sense. He worked at BBN in the 1990s, before joining @stake. BBN is a research and development firm that specializes in advanced security and networking projects. The company is best known as the contractor that built the ARPANET, the predecessor of todays Internet, for the U.S. Department of Defense. It has gone through several iterations since then but still does a large amount of government work as well as working with enterprises.
Zatko gained a reputation in the late 1990s as not only a talented hacker, but also as a straight shooter unafraid to tell bureaucrats and executives what he thought of their security efforts. His penchant for delivering unvarnished opinions made him a sought-after consultant and speaker, both in the security industry and in Washington. Called to testify along with several other L0pht members before a Senate committee in 1998, Zatko famously told the senators that he or any of his cohorts could take down the Internet in a half hour.
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