XXX in Tech
Do you prefer your porn with a side of malware? According to one British researcher, users who visit popular porn sites like PornHub and xHamster have a 42 percent chance of contracting digital STDs (a.k.a. malware) on their computers. Naturally, online porn purveyors sites did not take kindly to the study, which they say overinflated the risk.
Hack Hack Hack Hack It Apart
In Stephen King’s apocalyptic horror novel The Stand, a government-created virus escapes into the wild and kills most of the people on Earth. About two years ago, a similar scenario almost came true–but, fortunately for living creatures the bug was the U.S.-and-Israeli-made Stuxnet malware. The unintended victim was Chevron’s computer network.
Stuxnet was the highly sophisticated worm that successfully infiltrated Iran’s nuclear enrichment plants in 2010. According to The Wall Street Journal, Stuxnet wasted no time infecting friends as well as foes:
Even in the best hospitals there is a danger of acquiring vicious bugs like flesh-eating bacteria, pneumonia or even a new strain of tuberculosis. MIT’s Technology Review blog reports that medical facilities nationwide are now dealing with an entirely different class of bugs: malware.
Computerized equipment manufacturers apparently have an affection for out-of-date versions of Windows that may eventually put entire hospital computer networks in jeopardy.
Speaking last week in a Washington, D.C., meeting of a medical device panel, security expert Kevin Fu was unequivocal:
Virus makers sometimes create what amount to digital versions of the creepy guy on the corner in a trenchcoat trying to convince kids to get in his ‘police van.’ The SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) virus is just the latest and worst example of this. It’s called ransomware, and it will lock down a victim’s computer and give them an ugly scare in the process.
TorrentFreak explains how the SOPA virus works:
Speaking of scary software: Sounds like the hackers have finally realized that yes, they can make mischief for energy companies. Bloomberg News reports that a Qatari company is currently battling against a virus that’s shut down parts of its computer system. The site reports:
Flame I'm Gonna Live Forever
Humanity’s fear of “war without end” has yet to be completely fulfilled in the analog world, but state-sponsored cyber warfare has been afoot for years and is only getting worse. That’s one takeaway from cyber security expert Pete Warren’s report in The Guardian on government-created malware.
Mr. Warren consulted a number of anonymous security experts with military ties to get a sense of how long major governments have been developing nefarious software packages like Flame, Duqu and Stuxnet. Some systems, writes Mr. Warren, “have been under development since at least 1996.” Moreover, the United States and its allies aren’t the only nations with skin in the malware game:
The Bad Kind of Viral
Will your Internet suddenly vanish on Monday, July 9? Will you click on that new cute kitten video only to see full-blown failure, white noise, an Indian head placard, as the vicious “Alureon/DNSChanger bot” takes its final victims down in a mini-Webageddon? No, probably not.
Yes, as of 12:01 a.m. on July 9 the FBI will remove its phalanx of protective servers that have been keeping still-infected computers safely online. However the panic over the possibility of losing Internet access is probably, at this point, out-of-proportion to the actual level of infection. In the United States the number of still-infected computers runs in the 100s of thousands. Out of hundreds of millions of computers. Think about those odds for a moment–chances are excellent you are not among the infected, the unclean.
Symantec just released its annual Internet Threat Security Report, which offers a nice wrap-up of the last year in cybersecurity. The company’s software blocked 5.5 billion total attacks in 2011, versus 3 billion in 2010; 42 percent of mailboxes targeted for attack are “high level executives, senior managers, and people in R&D,” which is pretty alarming if you’re trying to protect IP.
That’s all useful intel for IT and security pros. But parts of the report read… a little random. Betabeat found this so noticeable, we picked out a few of our favorite facts, selected for wtfery rather than newsworthiness: