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Ninety per cent of malware is deployed in cybercrimes, technology experts say. But activism is also on the rise. (Reuters)

 

The largely anonymous world of online hacking has gotten the attention of governments and businesses around the world, thanks in part to the work of a Saint John man.

James Smith has chosen to use his computer skills for good as a certified ethical hacker and was in Florida Monday to speak at a hacker conference.

The 22-year-old founded Smithway Security to help government, corporations, and private intelligence firms find weaknesses in their computer networks.

"I’m actually trying to find a way to breach and get inside their servers. They would have confidential files, that may be social insurance numbers on their employees or their accounting information. The only real way to battle it is to try to keep your company protected and if you get breached, contain the threat, then go after them and try to track them down," he said.

Smith said most groups aren't protecting themselves enough against cyber-hacking.

"The government, I find, is not investing enough money in cyber-security and they're not upgrading the technologies that they’re using. They do have to have a constant security team on site, working 24 hours, but they should have audits done every six months or so," he said.

Smith said there are between 30 to 40 ethical hackers in Canada, and millions of so-called "black hats" who are trying to break into computer networks.

He said the only way to stay ahead is through frequent security updates and audits, and to contain threats as soon as they happen.