Sunday, March 29, 2009
CBS 60 Minutes: The Internet is infected (by Conficker); Lions may go extinct
CBS 60 Minutes tonight opened with Lesley Stahl’s report “The Internet Is Infected”.
Watch CBS Videos Online (I've re-embedded the video from the instructions on the CBS site, but as 4/1 I'm still having trouble getting it to play.)
The news story at the “60 Minutes” site is titled “The Conficker Worm: What Happens Next: Computer Worm Could Receive New Instructions April 1”, link here.
Yes, April Fools Day. I remember back in 1996 AOL claimed to have made a probe of Jupiter on April Fool’s Day. But this time it’s not funny. According to CBS, up to 10 million computers around the world could be infected, and no one knows what will happen if they are triggered on April 1.
Most infected computers are in corporate networks. Even CBS got infected, according to the report. One wonders why major corporations are not better able to keep the worm off their networks Symantec, which sells Norton, said that the virus is mutating constantly and that it would have to offer updates every five minutes to keep up.
McAfee lists the virus as low profiled but gives a link to a story by Steve Ragan – “Conficker Worm Fighting Back – new variant disables security measures”, dated March 9, 2009, here.
Much of Stahl’s report concerned incidents with bank account hacking that have happened for a number of years. The report depicted a woman whose bank account was hacked twice despite her anti-virus protection and firewall. The second time she caught the attack in process. But I recall that back in 2004 a printing company in Florida lost $90000 from a Bank of America account to a hack. I had $300 of unauthorized phone charges to a Merrill Lynch charge card back in 1995, and it was never explained.
The CBS report showed Russian teenage hackers, and showed the strike pages of oversease websites that brazenly bragged about stealing money from Americans. In some poorer countries, teenagers are rewarded for the activity.
Back in 1999, I took a one day course at the University of St. Thomas in St Paul MN from work that showed how easy buffer overflow attacks are.
The report also demonstrated that Google marks about 1% of sites it finds with searches as potentially harmful, but presents the results. McAfee SiteAdvisor and Web of Trust (MyWOT) also can label sites from searches.
Bob Simon also reported tonight on the killing of lions in Africa by farmers with a pesticide, Furadan, manufactured by FMC, out of economic stress. Lions in Africa may go extinct because of the practice, but Kenya and other governments are starting to pay farmers for lion kills to discourage the practice.