A NOTORIOUS hacker has been given a medal by the Guardia Civil – Chema Alonso, who was taken on by Telefónica to help them keep their systems secure using his knowledge of how to violate internet safety, would have saved the firm from the recent 'WannaCry' ransomware attack if he had not been on his annual leave.
Hacker Alonso had gone on holiday for 10 days when the attack struck, and immediately figured out what was wrong and how the rogue software had managed to get into Telefónica's system.
He has now been given a 'white distinction medal', the type granted to civilians for extreme merit, as opposed to the 'gold' variety given to the Guardia Civil and other military figures.
Interior minister and former mayor of Sevilla, Juan Ignacio Zoido, tweeted a photo in which he and Chema greeted each other during the ceremony at the Duke of Ahumada College for Young Guardia Civil Officers in Valdemoro, in the Greater Madrid region, where the hacker received his award.
The event marked the 173rd anniversary of the force which, according to its national director José Manuel Holgado is 'a major player in the fight against corruption nowadays'.
Chema Alonso's appointment to a top-rank, well-paid position last year hit national headlines, but in practice, skilled and even convicted hackers have been appointed frequently in large companies in the USA in particular for many years to help them keep on top of their IT security issues and find flaws in the system.
Photograph by Juan Ignacio Zoido on Twitter (@zoidoji). Chema Alonso appears, centre, in blue and brown woolly hat