ESET researcher Zuzana Hromcová shares the inspiration behind her work
What is it like to be in the trenches fighting malware?
Malware strikes every day, often indiscriminately targeting users from almost every nook and cranny of the world. Whether it is spyware that hijacks device cameras, botnet malware that enslaves user devices to malicious networks, or backdoors that are empowering Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) to spy on and disrupt organizations, malware hides in abundant forms. I am proud to be working alongside some of the best malware researchers, analysts and detection engineers in the industry who are exposing the criminal intentions of malware developers.
What inspired you to consider a career as a malware researcher?
I originally signed up for a reverse engineering course at my university that was supervised by ESET. The course introduced me to the art of reverse engineering – disassembling executable files to learn about their inner workings – and convinced me to join ESET as a malware analyst.
I later joined the malware research team because it allowed me to get a sense of the bigger picture – not only analyzing individual malicious files but also looking closer at cyber espionage operations. As malware researchers, we work to better understand the methods that attackers are using to spy on users and stay undetected; and we use this knowledge to improve our detection to better protect our users.
What is the best part of your fight against APTs and exposing their malicious tools?
When I was younger, I liked to solve sudoku and logical puzzles. I enjoyed finding clues and cracking the puzzle, step by step towards finding its solution. Reverse engineering malware is equally challenging, and a lot more rewarding. To expose an ongoing cybercrime or cyberespionage operation, you also need to collect and analyze clues, step by step towards reconstructing and blocking the attack.
What message would you like to share with aspiring IT enthusiasts/geeks?
Join us in protecting the internet! Help us fight cybercrime by becoming a malware researcher or penetration tester, by writing more secure software as a programmer, by better protecting networks as a network administrator, or simply by following best security practices as a user. We need more defenders to be able to keep up with attackers and protect the world from their malicious tools.