Man behind BBC botnet defends decision

BBC - justified?
BBC - justified?

The man behind the BBC's controversial decision to hire a botnet for its @click news programme, has told TechRadar that he believes that it was the right thing to do.

Jacques Erasmus of Prevx insists that criticism over the BBC's decision to pay cybercrimnals for the use of a botnet should be considered a small price to pay for educating the public as to what danger they are in.

"Well to be honest in terms of public interest it was the right thing to do," Erasmus told TechRadar.

"There's definitely some aspects to it that might be perceived as bad but in terms of the public's point of view the message is being well served and the BBC's reach is much greater than any other news outlet so they were the right guys to go with .

"Basically, Prevx and I advised them and told them a few things that were needed to do this. For them to do it they chose to do certain things to show the people infected that they had compromised PCs.

"Do I regret doing it – no I don't think so."

Sophos criticism

One of the critics of the decision was Sophos' Graham Cluley, who commented on TechRadar's original story on the BBC botnet, saying: "Watching that film, it's obvious that the BBC made unauthorised changes to innocent people's computers.

"It is irrelevant that they 'didn't have criminal intent'. It's still breaking the law.

"A TV show can help raise awareness of the serious problem of computers being controlled by hackers, but it is not appropriate for broadcasters to use innocent third party computers without the permission of their owners.

"Sophos has been asked many times by the media to take part in TV programmes like this, and has always made clear that we believe their legality to be questionable. Moreover, to our mind, the dubious ethics of such experiments are without question."

Another Agenda?

TechRadar asked Erasmus if he felt the criticism from other computer security companies was fuelled by something other than a desire to protect the public, Erasmus was emphatic.

"Definitely I do think so," he said. "In terms of how they are handling it the scenarios being drawn are bit far fetched.

"They are definitely having a stab at us. I don't think its justified but in terms of getting the message out there I think the BBC has certainly done a good job."

Patrick Goss

Patrick Goss is the ex-Editor in Chief of TechRadar. Patrick was a passionate and experienced journalist, and he has been lucky enough to work on some of the finest online properties on the planet, building audiences everywhere and establishing himself at the forefront of digital content.  After a long stint as the boss at TechRadar, Patrick has now moved on to a role with Apple, where he is the Managing Editor for the App Store in the UK.