12.09.08

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Make Peace, Not Windows Zombies

Posted in Microsoft, Security, Windows at 1:35 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Army outfit

DNS cracks enable man-in-the-middle attacks and an alliance has just been formed to protect from these. But DNS is not the biggest issue if merely visiting a Web site becomes a great threat, e.g. due to drive-by downloads or rogue ActiveX controls.

Some days ago we wrote about botmasters that had infected and even taken control of US military operations that ran Microsoft Windows. The Economist, which is still respected by some people, has published an article which sheds light on how botnets have become weapons of mass digital destruction. These can be trivially utilised at times of war.

AS RUSSIAN tanks rolled into Georgia in August, another force was also mobilising—not in the physical world, but online. Russian nationalists (or indeed anyone else) who wished to take part in the attack on Georgia could do so from anywhere with an internet connection, simply by visiting one of several pro-Russia websites and downloading the software and instructions needed to perform a “distributed denial of service” (DDoS) attack.

The mainstream media rarely discloses numbers that reveal the scale of this problem as it may incite panic. When about 4 out of 10 Windows PCs are part of a botnet (conservative assessment), then the complexity of defending one from DDOS attacks is truly realised. Everyone is a suspect, so there are no simple solutions other than a quarantine of half of Web (or more).

By any stretch of imagination, it remains hard to believe that 98% of Windows PCs are constantly vulnerable and ready to become zombies. This may seem an interesting, if puzzling, recent discovery. In addition to this, IDG is now reporting that Windows malware has peaked and reached an all-time high.

The year 2008 has seen another record of explosive growth in the amount of malicious software (malware) on the Internet, according to F-Secure.

Didn’t Microsoft promise to curb security breaches? In one of the most shocking stories from the past few months, the following has just been reported by WirtschaftsWoche:

Report: 21 Million German Bank Accounts for Sale

Black market criminals are offering to sell details on 21 million German bank accounts for €12 million (US$15.3 million), according to an investigative report published Saturday.

Reporters for WirtschaftsWoche (Economic Week) managed to obtain a CD containing 1.2 million accounts after a November face-to-face meeting with criminals in a Hamburg hotel, according to the magazine.

It’s bad enough that the world is tortured by an economic crisis. The last thing it needs right now is fraud of such massive scale. It leads to a sort of anarchy which transcends the Web.

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