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Monday, August 22, 2005
  Hacker underground erupts in virtual turf wars
Hacker underground erupts in virtual turf wars | csmonitor.com: "One of the noteworthy aspects of this latest outbreak was the speed with which Zotob appeared after Microsoft announced it had developed a fix for the vulnerability Zotob was written to exploit. While not the fastest piece of hacker software - or 'malware' - to hit the streets, its six-day gestation period beat the current average. 'In the last 24 months, the average has gone from 21 days to eight days, and it's continuing to trend downward,' Mr. Franklin says.

One reason behind the increased speed: Malware writers appear to be using prewritten program 'shells' into which they can stuff code tailored to the newest vulnerability, experts say. Meanwhile, corporate network managers sometimes have to negotiate with other parts of the corporation before they can speed up the process of plugging software gaps.

The biggest concern is over what security specialists call 'zero-day exploits,' when malware hits the Internet the same day that the fix for the vulnerability is announced.

Zotob's rise and fall highlights what many see as an increasing ethical dimension to keep a clean machine, Franklin adds. The viruses of yesteryear, 'where something would get on your system and blow away your boot sector just doesn't happen that much anymore.' Today, the various forms of malware 'are all converging in what they do. It's either looking to use your system without your knowledge to do something against other systems, or it's trying to collect information on you and combine it with information from other people' for use in fraud or identify theft schemes.

An unprotected computer running Windows XP experiences an average 'survival' time of 26 minutes on the Internet before hackers identify it as vulnerable, according to the SANS Institute, a cooperative Internet security organization."
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