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wei tao: return is still a young man

Posted by forbes at 2020-03-13

"The late 1990s was a very happy time. At that time, China's Internet and Internet security were just starting. As a participant and witness, I miss it very much."

Wei Tao, who is sitting in the conference room of Baidu Beijing company, has two eyes shining. He returns to Beijing from San Jose, accompanied by a cold. His nasal sound is serious. The 42 year old is not tall, with two dimples at the corners of his mouth, jumping out of conversation from time to time. When he spoke, he spoke very fast because of his meticulous thinking, which he ridiculed as a habit he had developed when he was teaching in Peking University.

In the eyes of his colleagues, he is "an approachable security tycoon"; in the eyes of Academician Wang Xuan, his mentor, he is "a person who can change the network security industry". In July 2015, baidu announced that one of the earliest network security experts in China had joined as Baidu's chief security scientist and head of Baidu's security laboratory.

So far, Wei Tao has two more titles on his resume. Associate professor of Peking University, famous ucberkeley security team bitblaze co organizer, mitbbs co founder There are many titles, but not all of them.

In addition to these brilliant names, the reality is that he projected on the history of the society. As a leader in the field of information security, he was a tireless teacher; as a top expert in the field of system security and business security, he is now on the front line, striving to promote the reform and development of the industry.

I. days by the lake

In 21 years, a baby can grow up to be a young man of great courage. On the campus of Peking University, Wei Tao spent 21 years growing from a senior high school student in a Physics Olympiad training class to an unknown leader in the security industry.

In 1992, when the title "Olympic champion" had become a god like existence beyond the reach of high school students in China, Wei Tao, a senior three student in Gulou District, Nanjing, won the first prize of the Olympic Games in mathematics and physics at one go. Therefore, the next path becomes natural: enter the Physics Department of Peking University for intensive training, and choose the Physics Department of Peking University as the major after the University.

In the 1990s, few people had access to the Internet. The Physics Department of Peking University is the second unit in China to access the Internet. Wei Tao, a physics student, has the opportunity to help teachers manage computer rooms and build the earliest BBS in China with friends, from the earliest "unnamed space of Peking University", to "unnamed space of Chinese Academy of Sciences", to "BBS. MIT. Edu" and the famous "mitbbs. Com".

In fact, it was a very interesting time. In 1996, he downloaded probably the first ten MP3's in China from foreign FTP. He could play so many songs in such a small space, but he could still maintain such good sound quality. He thought that Internet really wanted to change human life style.

Because of this, Wei Tao decided to turn his academic direction to computer. When he graduated, he chose to come to founder Institute of technology, which was jointly established by Peking University Institute of computer science and founder of Peking University. At that time, founder Institute of technology was soon established, and Wang Xuan, known as the father of Chinese character laser typesetting system, was the president.

After several years of work, Wei Tao has been Fang Zheng's technical director in charge of security. In 1999, Mr. Wang Xuan encouraged Wei Tao to say that you have a long way to go. You should go to a doctor's degree. Wei Tao, who is busy writing the bidding documents for the National Olympic network protection project, began to prepare for the postgraduate entrance examination while writing the plan. Later, the postgraduate entrance examination went smoothly, and Wei Tao began his master's degree and doctor's degree in computer science.

In 2007, 15 years after entering Peking University, Wei Tao graduated from Peking University to teach in the computer department.

To this day, Wei Tao will often miss the time when he was reading, "at that time, there were very few netizens, so everyone had a very good relationship with each other. Later, those who made BBS together became very good friends." When talking about the great success of Facebook, Wei Tao said with a smile that in fact, mitbbs started earlier. From the late 1990s to the beginning of the new century, mitbbs is one of the spiritual homes of Chinese students in North America, and later commercialized. But now looking back, there was not much gap in technology at that time, but we can see that there was a very big gap between our business mind and the United States, even though these people in BBS at that time were the elites of that era.

2、 Gorgeous turn: from security academy to security business

When he was a doctor, the main part of domestic information security research was cryptography, and he chose system security. After staying in school and teaching, he led his students to make a figure in system security research. When talking about these, Wei Tao is like a family treasure: in 2009, Wang tielei (now the chief scientist of Pangu team) published the first domestic NDSS (four internationally recognized top academic conferences on network and system security, and the remaining three are CCS, Usenixsecurity and IEEE S & P) papers; in 2010, they published papers on the most difficult IEEE S & P, which was the first time in 31 years that Chinese mainland research institutions published papers at the conference, and also won the best student paper award.

Leading the students to make their appearance at the top level conferences abroad, also let the overseas peers know that there are such a group of people in China who have made great achievements in the academic field of system security. In 2011, at the invitation of dawnsong, a famous Chinese professor, Wei Tao went to UC Berkeley to be a visiting scholar. Two years later, dawnsong invited him to join fireeye. At that time, fireeye was developing rapidly. After 21 years in Peking University, Wei Tao began to want to see what the security industry in Silicon Valley looked like and why it could develop so fast? So, after thinking twice, he chose to leave Peking University and join fireeye.

It wasn't long before fireeye pushed Google to fix a bug that hadn't been fixed. Before, Google didn't admit that it was a bug, just that it was a developer problem. After the blackhat team published the bug, Google fixed the bug. "Because that attack path must be cut off, or it will be extremely dangerous. When we showed it at that time, we said that as long as you use an app, I can locate where you are on the network stream, and directly monitor you through the camera of the mobile phone. "

In fireeye, Wei Tao also did one thing: at that time, everyone felt that IOS was relatively safe, so they thoroughly studied the entire IOS enterprise certificate and found its fatal injury. Thus, apple directly promoted the application of enterprise certificate to be strictly limited when IOS 9 was released.

When it comes to the biggest feeling in fireeye in two years, Mr. Wei Tao confessed to Anzer? That there are many things that are imperceptible. First of all, he will not have a sense of mystery about Silicon Valley. He will know how startups operate, how they get up and where their problems are. Silicon Valley companies also have a lot of problems, not so perfect as the legend, but why there are so many successful companies in the whole Silicon Valley? Unlike in academia and industry before, these things are the most intuitive experience.

At the same time, compared with the international market, many domestic enterprises need more safety awareness education. Now you have a very deep understanding of business, because there are models, what should be done and what can't be done. Your strategy, organization, including mission and vision are all thoroughly analyzed. In fact, there is no concept about how to do, how to build, what role to play, how to maintain the relationship with the outside companies and communities. In fact, it still needs a period of time to popularize, and where is the value of safety. After that, everyone has a deeper understanding, especially the executive level of the whole enterprise With a better understanding of this issue, the domestic security market will usher in a big explosion.

In two years, let Wei Tao understand the enterprise security and how 2B business works. So he thought: what is 2C like? At this time, the development of domestic security industry is in full swing, and high-end talents are extremely scarce. Many companies are also contacting with Wei Tao to invite him to join us. The strong engineer culture in Baidu's temperament makes Wei Tao decide to join Baidu.

"Now I think the decision at that time was very correct. At that time, it was 2B, Party B, and now it is 2c, Party A. It's totally different."

3、 Come back, the original heart has not changed

Wei Tao described his first visit to Baidu as "walking on thin ice". Mr. Wei told Anzer he checked at random and found many serious loopholes. So immediately promote a lot of business lines and technical level to make rectification together. Soon after the wormhole incident broke out, Wei Tao led the team to deal with it actively. At the same time, he told the team not to miss every crisis, especially in the security industry. In fact, every crisis is a very big driving force for security development.

"Baidu's previous culture was to pursue the ultimate user experience. They may think that for security reasons, you have made users take one more step or do one more thing to reduce the user experience. Although Baidu's search is tool based, it will come in and go quickly, but with the new service system, it will be totally different with the account. Now we can see that in the future, Baidu will pay more and more attention to some intelligent businesses, including unmanned vehicles. "

At the same time, he coordinated contacts and changed the promotion and selection mechanism of Baidu security technology team, because security is a very special field. In the past, doing security in Baidu would be relatively depressed, because many departments could not understand the work, it is difficult to get the correct evaluation and promotion, and the development was hindered. Later, baidu built a security channel. Wei Tao is the chairman of the security channel. When security engineers are promoted, they will be evaluated by security peers, so that they can get the most equitable and rapid development.

In Baidu, the most important thing Wei Tao does is not only the above, but also the establishment of a system to fight against illegal production and establish a threat intelligence system. "In the past, when we were doing this, many of Baidu's students didn't know that there would be so many black production threats in such major businesses as search and phoenix nest, which would do great harm to Baidu's brand and interests. We actively contact with various departments, establish mechanisms, and have many new businesses, such as finance. Our function is to provide systematic services to our main businesses. "

During the conversation, Wei Tao has always stressed that Baidu is a technology driven company, and the technical ability of the team has always made him proud

In particular, Wei Tao mentioned the revolutionary Android adaptive kernel hot fix technology that he led Baidu Security Lab to develop.

The security dislocation in Android ecosystem has led to the whole ecosystem into a kind of security critical illness that has been hard to cure for a long time, which is called as ecological security leukemia by Wei Tao. The important manifestation of Android's ecological security leukemia is that a high proportion (more than 50%) of Android devices actually used by users can always be controlled by attackers through open n-day exploit.

Most of Android's security mechanisms depend on the integrity of the kernel. If there is a kernel vulnerability, the basic security mechanism will crash. When the attacker obtains the kernel control, he can easily bypass the app isolation mechanism and most of the Android system security mechanisms, which pose a serious threat to the user's payment security and fingerprint privacy. This makes the application developers, especially the mobile payment and mobile finance companies, face the severe threat of swiping the card from the illegal production.

At present, the industry's way to resist this security threat is TrustZone (a security isolation environment of ARM processor), but in fact, TrustZone has a fatal weakness: most of the TrustZone logic believes that the input comes from the kernel, and it is unable to distinguish whether the input comes from the real mobile application or the malicious code with kernel permission. And as manufacturers put more and more functions into TrustZone, they will introduce more and more vulnerabilities into TrustZone, which is even more serious than kernel vulnerabilities.

And their team's adaptive kernel hot fix technology can automatically match the vulnerability of the target Android system for online hot fix without the source code and configuration used for actual kernel compilation. This technology greatly improves the ability of manufacturers to deal with Android's high fragmentation, and also greatly shortens the process of manufacturers pushing kernel security patches to end users. According to their team's statistics, at present, this technology can fix all the core vulnerabilities of Android products in the market, and most of them can be self-adaptive.

Near the end of the interview, when asked whether there are other reasons to choose to join Baidu, he pondered and said: Baidu has a very rich application scenario, which is a good platform. At that time, many companies came to me and had many choices. I felt that there was a lot of space here to do a lot of things. "What we do is not only to help Baidu, but also to protect all Internet users in China who use Baidu."

On September 21, shortly after Anzer? SH's interview, Wei Tao once again came to the campus of Peking University. This time, he will be employed as a visiting professor of Peking University. In the future, he will regularly communicate with Peking University to explain the technical development and industry practice of frontline anti Mafia for students majoring in information security of Peking University, and bring an international perspective, introducing global security research and technology The development of operation. As an "alumni" who once taught in Peking University, Wei Tao told us that he hoped to contribute to the training of information security talents in China and the teaching work of his alma mater, which he had worked and studied in.

Baidu's office in Beijing is not far from Peking University. From the age of 17, when he stepped into Peking University, to now, he has taken the responsibility of Baidu's chief security scientist in a near place. Wei Tao has been on this road for 25 years.

In a sense, in twenty-five years, Wei Tao is still the young man who pursues infinite possibilities.

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