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SpamCop Out

It very much looks as if my predictions of further ‘code chaos’ in the wake of the Blaster worm, came even more quickly than I anticipated, in the form of the Sobig-F virus. In fact, at one point, it was hard not to find anyone who hadn’t been affected, friends, family or business. When I arrived in the Sky News Westminster newsroom, to pass comment on email and the Hutton enquiry, it was to find the unhappy news team locked-out of their network too.

AntiVirus Consultants

I may have told you before that I’m a bit of a Luddite, in that I don’t have a broadband connection from home for a number of reasons, first of which is that I can’t afford to lose my email capability, as experience has shown me that Broadband is wonderful but occasionally dodgy. Two good examples from last week support this view. The first, was a friend who went on holiday to Devon and left his connection ‘up’. While he was away, he missed both Blaster and Sobig-F and when he came home he had visitors; well I’m sure you can guess.

The second was another friend who moved his London business down to his house in Kent on the Friday before the Bank Holiday. He tells me that thanks to Sobig-F, BT’s Broadband service was up and down constantly, so he reverted to dial-up in an attempt to stay online. Unfortunately he and others I know appear to have fallen foul on what can only be a glitch at www.spamcop.net which BT and others appear to be using to filter their email. I’m getting email bounces through BT Anytime and other ISPs with variations on the following message: “Information Misc Error: The server you are SENDING VIA ([193.113.154.14]) is blacklisted by a public blacklist (bl.spamcop.net)”, so something unusual appears to be happening in addition to the problems being caused by Sobig-F.

Presently estimated at £500 million by PA Consulting, at some point in the near future, someone will add-up the cost of August, the heat wave in combination with the eCrime-wave represented by the two relatively small pieces of code that brought business to its knees. You’ll be pleased to hear that the government will publishing its eCrime strategy in Spring 2004 and according to the latest EURIM report, the outdated Computer Misuse Act, which is technology neutral, may soon be changed include denial of service attacks and unauthorized access. However, the scale of the problem, the sheer volume of data, is staggering. Symantec tracks more than six thousand vulnerabilities on more than eleven thousand versions of two thousand-seven hundred software products from thirteen hundred vendors. Last year, it told EURIM-IPPR study group, those same vulnerabilities were turned by hackers into one million malicious code submissions.

Symantec’s monitoring of the networks of twenty thousand partners in one-hundred and eight-five countries produced data on three billion security events, of which Symantec were able to track thirteen million separate IP addresses responsible for launching the attacks.

Figure like these illustrate the scale of a problem which isn’t going to go away and one which is likely to become worse as ‘blended’ threats, which leverage the increasingly Broadband-connected society become more sophisticated and damaging.

Can we fight back with any degree of success of is the grim truth one of failure, a battle we can win without unplugging ourselves permanently from the world wide web and the world’s most popular operating system? And that like the promise of a better health service, simply isn’t going to happen this side of 2010.

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