Within the industry, Stewart is well-known. In 2003 he unraveled one of the first spam botnets, which let hackers commandeer tens of thousands of computers at once and order them to stuff in-boxes with millions of unwanted e-mails. He spent a decade helping to keep online criminals from breaking into bank accounts and such. In 2011, Stewart turned his sights on China. “I thought I’d have this figured out in two months,” he says. Two years later, trying to identify Chinese malware and develop countermeasures is pretty much all he does.
Computer attacks from China occasionally cause a flurry of headlines, as did last month’s hack on theNew York Times (NYT). An earlier wave of media attention crested in 2010, whenGoogle (GOOG)andIntel (INTC)announced they’d been hacked. But these reports don’t convey the unrelenting nature of the attacks. It’s not a matter of isolated incidents; it’s a continuous invasion.