Skip to main content
Storm Center's Worm Forecast

Yesterday, CNET posted a story (here) about the amount of time a worm would take to infect an unpatched computer after it connects to the Internet. The analysis, provided by the SANs Institute's Storm Center, clocks survival time at just 20 minutes, according to CNET

This morning, I checked the Storm Center site, where the time between attacks is listed at 16 minutes. I won't quibble over four minutes. Whether 16 or 20 minutes, new users wouldn't have enough time to download sufficient patches, including Windows XP Service Pack 2, to protect against Internet worms, assuming the Storm Center estimates are correct.

The Storm Center provides a handy guideline, "Windows XP: Surviving the First Day" (here), for setting up an unpatched computer. Basically, the process sidesteps Microsoft's setup procedure, which creates an Internet connection and activates the software, so that the use can enable Windows XP's built-in firewall before connecting to the Internet.

New computers shipping with Windows XP Service Pack 2 would have the firewall on by default. But, SP2 PCs won't start reaching the masses for at least another month. Because of Microsoft's phased SP2 rollout, not all SP1 PCs would get the newest update. A friend bought a computer this week and, rather than being prompted by Windows Update to download SP2, he was prompted to download about 70 post-SP1 individual patches or updates.

My recommendation to users would be the same as Storm Center's: Don't connect an unpatched PC to the Internet without enabling some kind of firewall. For some consumers and small businesses without technical knowhow, the only option might be patching the system via Automatic Update and then running antivirus software to remove any worms or Trojan horses.

Retailers could help consumers buying SP1 systems, by providing SP2 update discs and instructions on how to update the computers before connecting to the Internet.


Popular posts from this blog

Civilisational Data Mining

It’s a new expression I haven’t heard before. ‘Civilisational data mining.’

Let me start by putting it in some context. Every character, you or I have typed into the Google search engine or Facebook over the last decade, means something, to someone or perhaps ‘something,’ if it’s an algorithm.

In May 2014, journalists revealed that the United States National Security Agency, the NSA, was recording and archiving every single cell-phone conversation that took place in the Bahamas. In the process they managed to transform a significant proportion of a society’s day to day interactions into unstructured data; valuable information which can of course be analysed, correlated and transformed for whatever purpose the intelligence agency deems fit.

And today, I read that a GOP-hired data company in the United States has ‘leaked’ personal information, preferences and voting intentions on… wait for it… 198 million US citizens.

Within another decade or so, the cost of sequencing the human genome …

The Nature of Nurture?

Recently, I found myself in a fascinating four-way Twitter exchange, with Professor Adam Rutherford and two other science-minded friends The subject, frequently regarded as a delicate one, genetics and whether there could exist an unknown but contributory genetic factor(s) or influences in determining what we broadly understand or misunderstand as human intelligence.

I won’t discuss this subject in any great detail here, being completely unqualified to do so, but I’ll point you at the document we were discussing, and Rutherford’s excellent new book, ‘A Brief History of Everyone.”

What had sparked my own interest was the story of my own grandfather, Edmond Greville; unless you are an expert on the history of French cinema, you are unlikely to have ever hear of him but he still enjoys an almost cult-like following for his work, half a century after his death.

I've been enjoying the series "Genius" on National Geographic about the life of Albert Einstein. The four of us ha…
The Mandate of Heaven

eGov Monitor Version

“Parliament”, said my distinguished friend “has always leaked like a sieve”.

I’m researching the thorny issue of ‘Confidence in Public Sector Computing’ and we were discussing the dangers presented by the Internet. In his opinion, information security is an oxymoron, which has no place being discussed in a Parliament built upon the uninterrupted flow of information of every kind, from the politically sensitive to the most salacious and mundane.

With the threat of war hanging over us, I asked if MPs should be more aware of the risks that surround this new communications medium? More importantly, shouldn’t the same policies and precautions that any business might use to protect itself and its staff, be available to MPs?

What concerns me is that my well-respected friend mostly considers security in terms of guns, gates and guards. He now uses the Internet almost as much as he uses the telephone and the Fax machine and yet the growing collective t…