Tag Archives: Computerworld

The world’s biggest phishing attack?

This London bank raid seems impressive:

The investigation was started last October after it was discovered that computer hackers had gained access to Sumitomo Mitsui bank’s computer system in London.

They managed to infiltrate the system with keylogging software that would have enabled them to track every button pressed on computer keyboards.

Of course, it’s likely that there are lots more cases like this we don’t hear about. As Computerworld reports:

[Security experts] Cluley and Barnes said keylogging hacks are more common than thought, and they said the $423 million plot was probably the largest corporate case that had been made public. Both experts said it’s unclear what kind of keylogging was used.

The two speculate it could have been a physical keylogger dongle, installed by a cleaner (although that would mean the dongle would probably have to be retrieved somehow since any traffic through the company’s servers would be noticed. At least, one would hope so.)

The Charting Of An Urban Myth? Or A Double Bluff?

Here’s a cautionary tale from Vmyths, the virus myths website, on how urban legends are born.

Vmyths says that Reuters News Agency filed a report from Singapore last week quoting anti-virus manufacturer Trend Micro (makers of PC-cillin) as saying computer virus attacks cost global businesses an estimated $55 billion in damages in 2003. That’s a lot of damage. Two spokesmen at Trend Micro have since called Vmyths to “correct” the report. One said it was “wrong.”  Another said Trend Micro “cannot gauge a damage value — because they simply don’t collect the required data”.

Vmyths says the report was later pulled, but without any explanation. I’m not so sure. I can still see it on Reuters’ own website, Forbes, Yahoo, The Hindustan Times, ZDNet, MSNBC, ComputerWorld, The New York Times, etc etc. And the story still sits in Reuters’ official database, Factiva (co-owned by Dow Jones, the company I work for.) I’ve sought word from Trend Micro (I wasn’t able to reach anyone in Taiwan, Singapore or Tokyo by phone and emails have gone unanswered for 10 hours; I guess Chinese New Year has already started. Perhaps the U.S. will be more responsive). Emails to the author of the Reuters report have gone unanswered so far.

As Vmyths points out, it’s great that Trend Micro has tried to set the record straight.  But if the story was wrong, why is it still out there on the web, and, in particular, on Reuters’ own sites? And why hasn’t Trend Micro put something up on its website pointing out the report is wrong? Has Trend Micro done everything it can to get things right? Was the report wrong, or the original data?

This episode highlights how, in the age of the Internet, an apparently erroneous story can spread so rapidly and extensively, from even such an authoritative source as Reuters, and how hard it is to correct errors once the Net gets hold of them. In the pre-WWW world (and speaking as a former Reuters journalist) it was relatively simple process to correct something: overwrite it from the proprietary Reuters screen with a corrected version, withdraw the story, or, in the case of subscribers taking a Reuters feed (newspapers, radio stations and what-have-you), sending a note correcting the story. Proprietary databases could be corrected. So long as the story wasn’t already in print, you were usually safe. Nowadays it’s not so easy.

Vmyths is right: Expect to see the $55 billion figure pop up all over the place. (Of course, until we know for sure, it’s possible that the real myth that comes out of this could be that the story was wrong, when in fact it was right.) Ow, I’m getting a headache.

News: Is Windows About To Be Defenestrated?

 Interesting story about how Linux seems to be catching up with Windows in its user friendliness, at least among Germans. According to an article from ComputerWorld’s IDG News Service, “study findings suggest that it’s almost as easy to perform most major office tasks using Linux as it is using Windows”.  The study was conducted by Relevantive AG, a Berlin-based company that specializes in consulting businesses on the usability of software and Web services.
 
 
Linux users, for example, needed 44.5 minutes to perform a set of tasks, compared with 41.2 minutes required by the XP users. Furthermore, 80% of the Linux users believed that they needed only one week to become as competent with the new system as with their existing one, compared with 85% of the XP users. But when it comes to the design of the desktop interface and programs, Windows XP still has a strong edge: 83% of the Linux users said they liked the design of the desktop and the programs, compared with 100% of the Windows XP users.

News: You’re a Bad, Bad Owner

 From the This Gadget May Well Tell More Than I Really Want To Know About My Pet Dept, a Japanese company that produced the world’s first dog translator is working on a similar device for cats. An article at ComputerWorld’s website says that Japan’s Takara Co. Ltd. is working on a the Meowlingual, that “will have some of the same functions as the company’s Bowlingual translator including the ability to “translate” cat calls into one of around 200 phrases that are displayed on a built-in LCD”.
 
 
There will also be body-language analysis and medical-analysis functions, a new feline fortune telling function and other features that are still under development, said Takara on Wednesday. It is due to go on sale in November this year and will cost ¥8,800 (US$75). Bowlingual, which went on sale in Japan in September 2002, has sold around 300,000 units and an English version is due out in the U.S. in August. Here’s a company that’s already selling it.