The Virus Wars

Read this unusually detailed story at PC Magazine online.

Among other things, this article covers the human engineering factors in virus writing, the state-of-the-art in combating viruses by antivirus software companies, and the real scenarios we are likely to see in the future. The article is very infomative, and includes input from a several different virus writers.

On a related note, The Wilcox Family Says Goodbye to Internet Explorer: Mozilla has become our default browser for the time being, as I am waiting for some very scary Browser Helper Object vulnerabilities (and other exploits) to be repaired in IE. I’ve had one virus make it past Norton Antivirus in the form of a BHO (it was caught in my nightly scan, and did no damage), and my team leader, who is tech-saavy enough to write his own viruses and extremely security-conscious was nailed with two separate BHO infections in the course of a week. So, for the time being, we default to ’Zilla, and only fire up IE for a few sites (like the Sohmer Family BLOG that won’t display or work correctly in Mozilla.

11 Replies to “The Virus Wars”

  1. Reuters doesn’t keep a long archive of their articles, so I am reproducing the text below:
    Anti-Spyware Bill Advances in Congress
    Thu Jun 24, 2004 04:50 PM ET
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. congressional committee on Thursday approved a bill designed to crack down on deceptive “spyware” that hides in users' computers and secretly monitors their activities.
    The House Energy and Commerce Committee voted 45-4 for a bill that would require software makers to notify people before loading new programs on their machines that collect information about them.
    Spyware can sap computing power, crash machines and bury users under a blizzard of unwanted ads. It can capture passwords, credit-card numbers and other sensitive data.
    Several states have passed or are considering anti-spyware legislation, and business groups have called for a national law to avoid conflicts.
    The bill introduced by California Republican Rep. Mary Bono and New York Democratic Rep. Ed Towns would allow the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to seek millions of dollars in fines for some of the practices lawmakers consider most egregious, such as logging users' keystrokes or stealing their identities.
    It also would require that spyware be made easily removable.
    Several Democrats said the bill was moving too quickly, noting the version approved by the committee was not made available until after midnight the night before.
    California Democratic Rep. Anna Eshoo, whose Silicon Valley district is home to many high-tech companies, said she was concerned the bill could hinder legitimate surveillance, such as eBay Inc.'s (EBAY.O: Quote, Profile, Research) efforts to catch auction fraud.
    “I just don't think that there's been sufficient opportunity to consider the implications of this bill,” Eshoo said.
    Backers said they had tweaked the bill to address concerns of high-tech companies and would be open to further modifications before it comes up for a vote on the House floor.
    “This bill has been open more than many, many bills I've seen,” said Florida Republican Rep. Cliff Stearns, whose consumer-protection subcommittee approved the legislation last month.
    A spyware bill has been introduced in the Senate, but lawmakers have not yet taken it up for a vote.
    Separately on Thursday, lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee introduced a bill that would establish prison sentences of up to five years for those who use spyware to commit identity theft or other crimes.
    That measure could be folded into the Commerce Committee's bill or advanced on its own, staffers said.
    © Reuters 2004. All Rights Reserved.

  2. I consider my BLOG a child of yours (I did steal your code afterall) (with your permission and HELP.)
    So why would Firefox work with your site but not mine? Are you holding out on me, Wilcox?

  3. FireFox works for me on your less-than-attractive BLOG. Are you using the latest build (0.9.2)? I’ve also installed Mozilla 1.7, which fixes problems with displaying your BLOG. I think they might share the same rendering components, so you might discover that installing Mozilla 1.7, even if you do not use it, fixes your FireFox problems.

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