Zatko announced the new initiative on Monday via Twitter (https://twitter.com/dotmudge). “The White House asked if I would kindly create a #CyberUL, so here goes,” he wrote.
The new organization would function as an independent, non-profit entity designed to assess the security strengths and weaknesses of products and publishing the results of its tests.
Zatko is a famed hacker and security luminary, who cut his teeth with the Boston-based hacker collective The L0pht in the 1990s before moving on to work in private industry and, then, to become a program manager at the DARPA in 2010. Though known for keeping a low profile, his scruffy visage (circa 1998) graced the pages of the Washington Post in a recent piece that remembered testimony that Mudge and other L0pht members gave to Congress about the dangers posed by insecure software.(http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/business/2015/06/22/net-of-insecurity-part-3/)
Since leaving DARPA, Zatko has served as Deputy Director of Google's Advanced Technology and Projects division. He did not respond to requests for comment prior to publication.
Underwriters Lab — or "UL" — was founded in 1894 as a private firm dedicated to developing testing and safety standards for everything from fire extinguishers to lithium batteries to heating and cooling equipment and trash cans. UL has developed safety and performance standards for evaluating quality of information technology equipment, as well, but does not make a practice of testing software security or quality.
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