Security News Roundup: The most interesting security news of 2008

For this week's security events I have compiled what I think are some of the most interesting security-related news stories of 2008. More than the need for immediate mitigation of newly-uncovered vulnerabilities, the news highlighted here has more far-ranging implications in the security arena. I recap the issues involved.

CEO of Trend Micro thinks AV industry sucks

I would like to think that Eva Chen, co-founder of Trend Micro some 20 years ago is not just hard-hitting with her words, but shrewd with her ability to pitch for the headlines.

She was quoted as saying:

"For me for the last three years I've been feeling that the anti-virus industry sucks. If you have 5.5 million new viruses out there how can you claim this industry is doing the right job?"

Where Mac aficionados will say the answer is obvious, another solution that has become far less clunky than antivirus software in recent years would probably be whitelisting.  Then again, the death of the traditional antivirus approach is not that new a concept either, but the result of mounting frustration over the failure of the current approach.

Of course, Chen went on to conveniently punt the company's up-coming "Smart Protection Network," a technology that uses "pattern comparison" by leveraging the Internet cloud to solve all the problems related to nasty viruses.  And while it does seem to make sense, the question has to be why we are still reliant at this point on definition matching technology?

Whatever the case, it's certainly refreshing to have a leading antivirus vendor admit to the failings of the industry as a whole.

You can find the original TechRepublic post here.

Most spammed man in Britain receives 44,000 unwanted mails a day

You might think that you have it bad with spam.  Well, it appears that Colin Wells, a man who works as a workshop foreman at a local bus company has the dubious honor of being the most spammed man with 44,000 unwanted mails a day.

Obviously a piece to trumpet the services of ClearMyMail, a British anti-spam service company, it nevertheless boggles the mind how someone can receive quite so many unwanted emails.  Well claims that before ClearMyMail came along, he takes at least two hours a day to delete all the spam from his inbox.

We'll take that with a big tablespoon of salt, though a poll of TechRepublic members does reveal that about 35 percent of those polled receives more than 20 spam mails a day - which is no trivial figure either.

You can find the original TechRepublic post here.

Another Webcam voyeur arrested

Yet another peeping tom got thrown into jail for hijacking a teenage girl's webcam to spy on her.  Essentially, the so-called hacker used a Trojan horse virus to remotely access the webcam by selective targeting with infected emails.  Once he had a cache of illicit photos, the man went on to threaten the teenage girl with blackmail unless she posed indecently for him, at which stage the hapless girl reported on him.

I think of particular concern would be the built-in Webcams that can be found on literally every new laptops sold on the market today.  From the evidence so far, it seems that borderline computer literate users can fail to notice anything amiss should the camera come on.  Perhaps pasting a opaque scotch tape across it might work better for these users.

I originally referenced the case on TechRepublic here; you can find the original news report here.

Long-running Internet porn pop-up case finally comes to an end

Four long years in the running, the case against former Connecticut schoolteacher Julie Amero finally closed a couple of weeks ago when she accepted a plea agreement.  Amero will pay a US$100 charge as well as have her teaching credentials revoked in return for State prosecutors dropping four felony charges against her.

What happened was as follows.  Excerpt from Times Online:

She [Amero] returned from the lavatory to find two students viewing a hairstyle site.  Shortly afterwards, she says, pornographic advertisements flooded the screen. She says she tried to click them off, but they kept popping up, and the barrage lasted all day. She tried to stop the students looking at the screen, but several saw sexually explicit photographs. It was school policy not to turn off computers.

I think the general TechRepublic members are sympathetic towards the situation, though some are suspicious that not all the facts were clearly reported in the press.

One line of thought is that legal costs can be so crippling that the life of an innocent person can be destroyed mounting a proper defence.  What is your take on this?

You can find the original TechRepublic post here.


Paul Mah is a writer and blogger who lives in Singapore, where he has worked for a number of years in various capacities within the IT industry. Paul enjoys tinkering with tech gadgets, smartphones, and networking devices.

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