Friday, January 28, 2011

Surfing naked can give you worms

When the Conficker worm was first detected by malware experts, they painted a dire picture of the implications.

Once the true scale of Conficker infections was realised, that picture became even darker and more threatening.

However, none of their sobering predictions of mayhem and major meltdowns have come to pass so the general public seem to have largely forgotten about this cleverest of all worms.

Yet, the worm still lurks, remaining undetected on millions of personal computers across the face of the globe. Fortunately for all those whose machines remain infected, experts are now convinced that a concerted effort by key players in the industry has effectively ex-communicated the virus itself from the computers that may have commanded the worm to turn nasty.

Unfortunately, this does not mean that the threat is entirely mitigated.

It has been speculated that another virus or worm could be released that may be capable of grafting itself to Conficker and, in doing so, re-establish the now severed lines of communication with its command-centre.

So, for the time being it may be that we've suppressed this malware but not eradicated it. Should we be doing more?

How many PCs out there remain ticking time-bombs in cyberspace, just waiting to become part of a huge spam relay network or launching distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks against key targets?

Partly to blame for this is the fact that anti-competition laws have effectively prohibited Microsoft from bundling critical anti-malware systems with its Windows OS. If they were to do this, companies such as Symantec, McAfee and others would almost certainly take legal action against the software giant -- claiming that such a move would represent an infringement of anti-trust laws.

Of course Microsoft does make its Security Essentials software available for free download and it does distribute regular software updates but it seems that far too many people still "surf naked" from a malware security perspective. They either can't be bothered protecting their systems or simply remain unaware of the threats.

So we sit and wait -- for the inevitable.

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