Hackers gone wild

It's a hackers' world; we just surf in it.

It's a truism that sites get hacked every, and some may even deserve it. But we're no longer talking about individual hacks by disgruntled geeks. We're looking at massive, well-organized plans to take over vast portions of the Net. Case in point: The SQL Injection exploit that infected more 70,000 sites -- including some parts of CA's site -- according to researchers at Grisoft.

It gets worse. In a presentation to the security wonks at a SANS conference, CIA analyst Tom Donahue revealed that hackers accessed the power grid in several foreign nations via the Net and tried to extort money from the local governments in return for not turning off the lights. Think about that the next time you experience a rolling blackout.

But the real elephant in the server closet is the Storm worm, which celebrated its first birthday last week and continues to spread across the Net via holiday-themed e-mails. According to Sophos, poison pen Valentines e-mail accounted for 8 percent of all e-mail traffic last week.

We know that millions of machines have been infected with the Storm bot, and every so often they receive instructions, but mostly they've been strangely quiet.

A security wonk of my acquaintance (who asked to remain anonymous) has an interesting theory on what these millions of zombie machines might be used for: the evil equivalent to SETI. But instead of parsing interstellar radio signals for signs of intelligent life, these millions of zombies could be put to other distributed computing tasks, like cracking complex passwords. Heck, the bad guys could merely rent their grid out to anyone with a Dr. Evil-ish scheme for world domination. Call it Storm Cloud Computing.

Of course, there's not just one Storm network. There may be dozens. One was recently employed in phishing attacks on Barclay's and Halifax banks, another used to spew out pump-and-dump spam last year.

My anonymous security wonk also tells me that most of the malware action has moved from Russia to China -- or at least, Chinese subnets. Apparently Russian locals have started to crack down, so the bad guys jumped borders to friendlier environs. It seems World War III may be fought online. Strap on your virtual kevlar, because it's about to get ugly.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Robert X. Cringely

InfoWorld
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?