Macro and script viruses dying off

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The end of standard mass mailing worms is nigh – maybe as soon as
before the end of 2003. But there replacements – Trojans and Spyware –
are much, much worse.

Or so Roger Thompson, technical director of TruSecure, a risk
management firm, forecasts. In particular he warns of the risk from
Remote Access Trojans (RATs) or backdoors posted on the Net or spread
via email.

“Malware code writers will continue to disguise RATs and backdoor
scripts as ‘adult’ movies and then post them to pornography new groups
targeting inexperienced users,” he writes. “Expect them to continue
through 2003 but they will be mixed with more and more grey ware (i.e.
spyware and advertising monitoring that is barely legal).”

Thompson notes mass-mailing Windows viruses were largely unsuccessful
in hitting corporations in 2002, with the notable exception of
organisations which did implement proper filters. One of the two
biggest worms of the year was Klez, which infected home PCs mostly.

Macro and script viruses emerged at a rate of 200 to 300 a month in
2002 but this will decrease to approx. 20 to 30 per month, TruSecure

According to Thompson, the impact of the mass-mailing worm is mostly
over for corporations but it will still have an impact on SOHO (small
office/home office) environments this year.

Code Red

TruSecure (and more particularly its affable “Surgeon General” Russ
Cooper) came to notice in 2001 for predicting that the Code Red virus
had the potential to “meltdown” the Internet.

This warning was, we now know overstated. Cooper told us, when we met
up with him before Christmas, that he did not regret the warning. He
was acting, he said, on early analysis of Code Red and its possible
spread through NT4 boxes. This turned out to be a lesser risk than
first believed.

Fair enough; but TruSecure is still banging on about Code Red-style
attacks to this day. Thompson warning he expects “another attack in
2003 in the class and level of Code Red”.

If he means another outbreak of hysteria from sectors of the security
community (which ought to know better) over some supposed
Internet-crushing threat, how could we disagree?

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