Support the IEET




The IEET is a 501(c)3 non-profit, tax-exempt organization registered in the State of Connecticut in the United States. Please give as you are able, and help support our work for a brighter future.



Search the IEET
Subscribe and Contribute to:


Technoprogressive? BioConservative? Huh?
Quick overview of biopolitical points of view




whats new at ieet

Self Absorption

Wage Slavery and Sweatshops as Free Enterprise?

Currency Multiplicity: Social Economic Networks

#21: Your nanorobotics future: life truly becomes ‘magical’

Meaning, Value and the Collective Afterlife: Must others survive for our lives to have meaning?

From German Idealism to American Pragmatism


ieet books

Virtually Human: The Promise—-and the Peril—-of Digital Immortality
Author
Martine Rothblatt


comments

instamatic on 'Four questions for Social Futurists, and others' (Dec 18, 2014)

CygnusX1 on 'Four questions for Social Futurists, and others' (Dec 18, 2014)

instamatic on 'Four questions for Social Futurists, and others' (Dec 18, 2014)

CygnusX1 on 'Four questions for Social Futurists, and others' (Dec 17, 2014)

instamatic on 'Four questions for Social Futurists, and others' (Dec 17, 2014)

Jessie Henshaw on 'Defining “Benevolence” in the context of Safe AI' (Dec 16, 2014)

CygnusX1 on 'Four questions for Social Futurists, and others' (Dec 16, 2014)







Subscribe to IEET News Lists

Daily News Feed

Longevity Dividend List

Catastrophic Risks List

Biopolitics of Popular Culture List

Technoprogressive List

Trans-Spirit List



JET

Enframing the Flesh: Heidegger, Transhumanism, and the Body as “Standing Reserve”

Moral Enhancement and Political Realism

Intelligent Technologies and Lost Life

Hottest Articles of the Last Month


Review of Michio Kaku’s, Visions: How Science Will Revolutionize the 21st Century
Dec 15, 2014
(9368) Hits
(0) Comments

What Will Life Be Like Inside A Computer?
Dec 7, 2014
(8293) Hits
(0) Comments

Bitcoin and Science: DNA is the Original Decentralized System
Nov 24, 2014
(7745) Hits
(0) Comments

Brain, Mind, and the Structure of Reality
Nov 21, 2014
(5424) Hits
(0) Comments



IEET > Security > Cyber > Directors > George Dvorsky

Print Email permalink (0) Comments (6986) Hits •  subscribe Share on facebook Stumble This submit to reddit submit to digg


Storm Botnet storms the Net


George Dvorsky
By George Dvorsky
Sentient Developments

Posted: Sep 24, 2007

Back in January of this year a rather insidious computer virus began to make its way into a startlingly large number of computers around the globe. Called Storm Worm, the virus is a backdoor trojan that affects Windows operating systems. At its height the virus accounted for 8% of all infections globally; over 1.2 billion virus messages have been sent including a record 57 million on August 22 alone.

What makes this particular virus unique is its ability to link a massive number of computers together. The worm drops an agent into the operating system or software application for the purpose of performing specific tasks, such as gathering data on the user, attacking web sites, or forwarding infected e-mail. A computer that has been co-opted in this way is called a bot.

Massively distributed computation

In the case of Storm Worm, the bots work together across the internet to create a kind of massively distributed computer. It’s been estimated that as many as 1,000,000 to 50,000,000 computers comprise the Storm Worm botnet. Consequently, it has the potential to execute more instructions per second than some of the world’s top supercomputers.

According to Matt Sergeant, chief anti-spam technologist at MessageLabs, “In terms of power, [the botnet] utterly blows the supercomputers away. If you add up all 500 of the top supercomputers, it blows them all away with just 2 million of its machines. It’s very frightening that criminals have access to that much computing power, but there’s not much we can do about it.”

The issue of security

Equally disturbing is the Worm’s ability to override operating system security; the botnet is not driven exclusively by the OS, nor can it be completely shunned out by security schemes. Even Mac OS X and Linux systems have been comprised, not because of OS security holes, but because the virus has exploited third party applications running on these machines. This could prove particularly problematic in the future as more and more applications migrate to the Web.

This said, I strongly suspect that the swiss cheese that is Windows is the primary culprit in allowing this botnet to achieve the strength that it has. Unlike Mac and especially Linux, Microsoft has always neglected security in favour of usability. This philosophy is now coming back to haunt them in the most ominous of ways.

Looking ahead

The damage inflicted by the botnet has been fairly limited. It spreads spam, makes DDos attacks, and deprives users of computing power. More seriously, however, the botnets can also break passwords. Given a highly organized and large scale operation, there’s also the possibility of severe security breaches, monetary theft and crippling internet attacks. It looks like organized crime could claim a huge chunk of the internet.

But it doesn’t necessarily have to be this way. Security will go a long way in preventing these highly distributed attacks and the ongoing proliferation of viruses. Microsoft, quite simply, has got to get its act together on security. Hopefully it won’t take some kind of internet catastrophe to instigate this sort of commitment. Should such a calamity happen, however, governments and security agencies would likely move fast and enforce higher standards for operating system security.

As for non-OS specific security breaches, software developers have to be cognizant of the fact that their apps are highly exploitable. Like operating systems, they also need to have tighter security and layers of redundant protection. Patches must flow regularly.

Firewalls and anti-virus applications have to become more intelligent as well. Efforts should be directed to develop high-tech security systems that can better identify malign applications through the use of artificial general intelligence and expert systems.

Only you can prevent forest fires, er, I mean botnets


More conceptually, users are also to blame for these sorts of epidemics. Social engineering will most assuredly continue to be a problem, but it can be curtailed by alert users who can recognize legitimate information from deception.

So, until more meaningful security measures are put into place, be careful of what you click.


George P. Dvorsky serves as Chair of the IEET Board of Directors and also heads our Rights of Non-Human Persons program. He is a Canadian futurist, science writer, and bioethicist. He is a contributing editor at io9 — where he writes about science, culture, and futurism — and producer of the Sentient Developments blog and podcast. He served for two terms at Humanity+ (formerly the World Transhumanist Association). George produces Sentient Developments blog and podcast.
Print Email permalink (0) Comments (6987) Hits •  subscribe Share on facebook Stumble This submit to reddit submit to digg


COMMENTS


YOUR COMMENT (IEET's comment policy)

Login or Register to post a comment.

Next entry: Jamais Argues for an Open Source Singularity

Previous entry: Impressions from the Singularity Summit 2007

HOME | ABOUT | FELLOWS | STAFF | EVENTS | SUPPORT  | CONTACT US
SECURING THE FUTURE | LONGER HEALTHIER LIFE | RIGHTS OF THE PERSON | ENVISIONING THE FUTURE
CYBORG BUDDHA PROJECT | AFRICAN FUTURES PROJECT | JOURNAL OF EVOLUTION AND TECHNOLOGY

RSSIEET Blog | email list | newsletter |
The IEET is a 501(c)3 non-profit, tax-exempt organization registered in the State of Connecticut in the United States.

Contact: Executive Director, Dr. James J. Hughes,
56 Daleville School Rd., Willington CT 06279 USA 
Email: director @ ieet.org     phone: 860-297-2376