Thieves Winning Online War, Maybe Even in Your Computer
New York Times (12/06/08) P. A1; Markoff, John
Malware continues to overcome security professionals’ efforts to defend against it. “Right now the bad guys are improving more quickly than the good guys,” says SRI International’s Patrick Lincoln.
As businesses and individuals become increasingly involved in online communities, cybercriminals are given more opportunities to infect machines and commit crimes. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe estimates that credit card thefts, bank fraud, and other online scams rob computer users of $100 billion annually. In late October, the RSA FraudAction Research Lab discovered a cache of 500,000 credit-card numbers and bank account log-ins that were stolen by a network of zombie computers run by an online gang.
“Modern worms are stealthier and they are professionally written,” says British Telecom chief security technology officer Bruce Schneier. “The criminals have gone upmarket, and they’re organized and international because there is real money to be made.”
Meanwhile, malicious programs are becoming increasingly sophisticated, with some programs searching for the most recent documents on the assumption that they are the most valuable and others stealing log-in and password information for consumer finances.
Microsoft researchers recently discovered malware that runs Windows Update after it infects a machine to ensure the machine is protected from other pieces of malware. Purdue University computer scientist Eugene Spafford is concerned that companies will cut back on computer security to save money.
“In many respects, we are probably worse off than we were 20 years ago,” he says, “because all of the money has been devoted to patching the current problem rather than investing in the redesign of our infrastructure.”
amen to that last paragraph. Go Mr. Obama, Go!