Page Two

By Larry Seltzer  |  Posted 2004-06-07 Print this article Print

Neither of these worms should have fooled anyone, and there was very little that was innovative about either. Some variants of Bagle made the leap, which had been expected for some time in the security community, of spreading through password-protected ZIP files with the password included in the body of the message. It even generated the password as a graphic to make it harder for anti-virus software to scan. But even so, the message screamed, "I am malware!"

Another important point about these worms that I believe has been true for quite some time, months at the least: Theyre at most a minor problem for enterprises. Almost any enterprise is going to have adequate safeguards at the perimeter and elsewhere on the network to block all of this stuff. Im sure the vast majority of victims for a long time have been consumer users.

And how many users really are infected? I dont think we really know the numbers with respect to mail worms. We often see the numbers of copes of a worm being sent around, but thats no direct indicator of the number of systems infected. Maybe its not all that large a number. And heres another piece of data Ive hungered for: How many people are infected with more than one of these things? Id bet the percentage of infected users with more than one (designated SUCKER%) is huge.

Everyone, from the press to the security companies and IT, needs to change their strategies for security problems. We need to focus on the threats that we arent as good at stopping, and on making proactive, preventative measures like intelligent patch management and penetration testing high priorities.

Security Center Editor Larry Seltzer has worked in and written about the computer industry since 1983. Check out eWEEK.coms Security Center at for security news, views and analysis.
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Larry Seltzer has been writing software for and English about computers ever since—,much to his own amazement—,he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1983.

He was one of the authors of NPL and NPL-R, fourth-generation languages for microcomputers by the now-defunct DeskTop Software Corporation. (Larry is sad to find absolutely no hits on any of these +products on Google.) His work at Desktop Software included programming the UCSD p-System, a virtual machine-based operating system with portable binaries that pre-dated Java by more than 10 years.

For several years, he wrote corporate software for Mathematica Policy Research (they're still in business!) and Chase Econometrics (not so lucky) before being forcibly thrown into the consulting market. He bummed around the Philadelphia consulting and contract-programming scenes for a year or two before taking a job at NSTL (National Software Testing Labs) developing product tests and managing contract testing for the computer industry, governments and publication.

In 1991 Larry moved to Massachusetts to become Technical Director of PC Week Labs (now eWeek Labs). He moved within Ziff Davis to New York in 1994 to run testing at Windows Sources. In 1995, he became Technical Director for Internet product testing at PC Magazine and stayed there till 1998.

Since then, he has been writing for numerous other publications, including Fortune Small Business, Windows 2000 Magazine (now Windows and .NET Magazine), ZDNet and Sam Whitmore's Media Survey.

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