Old worm Slammer threatens again

The security industry is now witnessing a snowball effect, where threats are accumulating at an "exponential" rate, and it isn't really possible to eradicate any of those threats.

An old worm known as Slammer, which originated back in January 2003, is still going strong according to Gunter Ollmann, director of security strategy at IBM's Internet Security Systems (IBM ISS).

Ollmann, the author of the white paper "Old threats never die", says that Slammer is still the threat most commonly encountered by IBM ISS.

But it isn't just high-profile vulnerabilities and malware that are a problem, Ollmann said. In effect, the security industry is now witnessing a snowball effect, where threats are accumulating at an "exponential" rate, and it isn't really possible to eradicate any of those threats.

"Organizations need to be aware that old threats never actually retire from the digital landscape," Ollmann wrote in the white paper. "Rather, they tend to become background noise on the Internet -- ready to burst into life with each new software update, host recovery, device deployment or embedded system release."

The problem is that many of the protection mechanisms companies rely on, like signature-based security software, are no longer able to keep up with the rate at which new threats are appearing.

That's worsened by the fact that whenever security firms retire older signatures, they open a hole through which old attacks can instantly reappear, Ollmann said.

"Antivirus systems can handle tens of thousands of new signatures without blinking, but after a few hundred thousand they begin to struggle a bit," he wrote in a blog post this week. "Now, with several hundred thousand new virus strains each year (and increasing faster than Moore's Law), things are getting pretty creaky."

Security vendors are at a disadvantage, because it costs nothing for attackers to append the latest exploit to their attack systems, keeping all the old attack methods in place as well, Ollmann said.

"The consequences for all of us are that old exploits (and the threats they represent) will never disappear -- and there continues to be a steady supply of hosts vulnerable to flaws for which patches have existed for half a decade," he wrote in the blog post.

IBM ISS advised companies to think twice about retiring their old, creaking protection systems, but instead to evaluate more efficient protection models such as heuristic engines.

"Instead of a one-for-one signature protection model, more advanced heuristic engines can be used to protect the entire threat class," Ollmann wrote in the white paper.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Matthew Broersma

Techworld.com
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?