Bonum Certa Men Certa

Botnets and Bounties Versus Real Security

THERE ARE many reports this week about Windows security problems, but one that really stood out is this one from yesterday:

Microsoft is offering a $250,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the virus writers behind the infamous Conficker (Downadup) worm.


This was also covered in:



So Microsoft plays sheriff and puts money on people's heads rather than actually produce secure and robust systems. That's the equivalent of jailing many people for possession of illegal drugs rather than looking for ways to prevent the trafficking of such drugs. It completely ignores the causes and instead addresses an outcome. The outcome is not just tens of millions of hijacked computers in this case; the 'outcome' is also teenage cyber-criminal who are empowered by badly engineered systems. Will there be a bounty presented to combat each and every Windows virus that exists (there are over a million, including variants)?

In other news, 8 "critical" vulnerabilities have just surfaced in Microsoft software.

Microsoft Patches 8 Critical Vulnerabilities



Microsoft Tuesday patched eight vulnerabilities -- three of them marked "critical" -- in the company's Internet Explorer (IE), Office, Exchange and SQL Server software.


"Critical" is the highest degree of severity in Microsoft's scale, so it's only reasonable to expect larger botnets. Speaking of which, Microsoft is again addressing the wrong problem in the wrong way when it tries to take apart botnets rather consider the reasons for their creation in the first place.

Microsoft has beefed up the Malicious Software Removal Tool (MSRT) that ships with its Windows operating system so that it will detect and root out the notorious Srizbi botnet code.

"This month's MSRT takes on one of the largest botnets currently active worldwide," wrote Microsoft spokesman Vincent Tiu in a blog posting Tuesday, the day the update to the software removal tool was released. "Win32/Srizbi has been accused of being responsible for a huge chunk of spam e-mail messages sent in the years after its discovery," he added. "We hope to make a positive impact with the addition of Win32/Srizbi into MSRT."


This is also covered here.

In other security-related news:

i. Fake Infection Warnings Can Be Real Trouble

Michael Vana knew something was up when he saw the pop-up from "Antivirus 2009" in the middle of his screen. The former Northwest Airlines avionics technician guessed that the dire warning of a system infection was fake, but when he clicked on the X to close the window, it expanded to fill his screen. To get rid of it, he had to shut down his PC.


ii. Fraudsters cream opposition in cybercrime wars

The celebration of Safer Internet Day on Tuesday was marked by warnings that cybercriminals are staying ahead of defenders in their attempts to defraud or otherwise abuse internet users.


iii. Germany deploys cybersoldiers

GERMANY HAS REVEALED that it has a team of 76 soldiers who are trained to defend the country from cyber attacks and software piracy.


Once again, Windows and the Web are unable to play nice with each other:

New Windows virus attacks PHP, HTML, and ASP scripts



Researchers have identified a new strain of malware that can spread rapidly from machine to machine using a variety of infection techniques, including the poisoning of webservers, which then go on to contaminate visitors.

The malware is a variation of a rapidly mutating virus alternately known as Virut and Virux. It has long proved adept at injecting itself into executable files, which are then able to attack uninfected machines through network drives and USB sticks.


A reader has just alerted us that a man is moving from the Ministry of Finance to Microsoft, hinting at possible government connections. Microsoft has already 'pulled an EDGI/MOU' around there.

Regarding news coverage like this one, wrote the reader, "the non-cached page has some nasty tricks to wipe out non-Javascripted browsers." Further he added: "I have often wondered if the sudden push to web 2.0 is to compensate for loss of access that various interests have as people depart Microsoft Windows. The reasons for snubbing client-side javascript are still valid, perhaps more so than years past. Certainly there has been no value added. What does get added, aside from slowness and loss of functionality, is a whole slew of ways to remotely access content or activities on the client."

Those who want a secure system ought to look at GNU/Linux.

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