Computer Security in the News

  • The New York Times is reporting that latest bunch of computer worms (you have been patching your systems, haven’t you) have started to attack each other. According to F-Secure, there appear to be three different virus-writing gangs turning out new worms at an alarming rate, as if they were competing to build the biggest network of infected machines. The latest variants of Bozori even remove competing viruses like Zotob from the infected machines.

    This is quite interesting. If folks recall, about two years ago, there was a worm going around that attempted to install patches. Lots of folks didn’t like it: they wanted control of when patches were installed. Here we have an example of what I might call a “grey worm”: it does both good and bad. Are we going to start seeing proactive worms, and what form will they take? Only time will tell.

  • Another New York Times article reports how Chinese Cryptologists are not being able to obtain visas to attend security conferences, where they have been invited to present papers. This, of course, impacts our technology, for we are unable to learn from others in the world.

    It concerns me in particular. I’ve just come off of a four-year stint as Chair of an international Security Conference that has 25% international participation. It has been getting harder and harder to get those participants to our locations in the US. This may result in conferences moving out of the US, or lowered attendance at conferences. This is not a good thing: it hurts the economy, it hurts our ability to learn from others (for example, it is nearly impossible for me to attend an extra-US conference). We need to find the right balance.