With Friends Like These, Linux Doesnt Need Enemies
So far, today, Ive received 62 copies of the MyDoom worm, aka Novarg.A, aka MiMail.R, aka a big pain in the rump. As worms go, this one isnt that bad except there are so darn many of them that theyre slowing down my Internet connection. But I run a small tight security ship and not everyone does as good a job as I do. I know of at least two large businesses that have been swamped by MyDoom. Im certain there are thousands, probably tens of thousands, of businesses in the same boat.
Central Command Inc., a leading anti-virus company, tells me that one in nine e-mail messages being sent on Jan. 27 carried MyDoom. I believe it; Im seeing an even higher percentage in my mailboxes. All the anti-viral companies agree that MyDoom may unseat Sobig.F as the most widespread virus of all time.
The worst, however, is yet to come. Starting Feb. 1, active infections will start a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on SCO. That will be bad news for SCO, bad news for networks that still have the worm by then and worse news for Linux.
Technically, the worm doesnt do a thing to Linux systems. Like all important e-mail worms, MyDoom is solidly based on Windows inherent security shortcomings. Neither Linux nor Mac systems can get it.
No, the problem is that this worm is apparently the product of some ticked-off Linux fan deciding to get back at SCO. Indeed, some moronic Linux fans are cheering MyDoom on. "Quick, disable your AV software, and get some Windows boxes on the internet!"
Thanks guys. With friends like these, Linux doesnt need enemies.
Companies are going to lose, at a guess, hundreds of millions of dollars in lost productivity thanks to MyDoom. And, who are they going to blame? Microsoft for producing crappy software? No, people keep using Windows and Outlook even though every few months were shown once more that both have all the security of an open barn door.
No, what will happen is that at least some corporate IT decision makers are going to blame Linux because one or two worm writers decided that they had enough of SCO and decided to get back at them, and some others decided to at least jokingly support the worm.
Still other Linux backers have come up with a conspiracy theory that SCO itself came up with the virus to generate sympathy. What nonsense! SCO doesnt need sympathy, it needs court victories, and the company isnt going to get either one from MyDoom.
Folks, MyDoom isnt a joke. You may hate SCO, but using worms, and giving them your blessing even in fun, is bad for Linux. Anyone who really cares about Linux and its future in business, and not just flipping SCO a bird, can keep their jokes to themselves, help stomp out MyDoom, and, oh yes, mention that if people were using Linux desktops, we never would have had this worm in the first place.
Editors note: A word in this column has been modified to emphasize that a connection between anti-SCO sentiment by the Linux community and the MyDoom attack has not been proved.
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eWEEK.com Linux & Open Source Center Editor Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has been using and writing about operating systems since the late 80s and thinks he may just have learned something about them along the way. Be sure to check out eWEEK.coms Linux and Open Source Center at for the latest Linux news, views and analysis.