What is the difference between a nuclear missile and malware?
It’s not a trick question – malware can seize control of a missile, but a missile can’t be used to destroy malware. With the right tools a missile can be diverted by malware, but no amount of firepower can divert rogue software once it is active.
Unlike traditional weaponry, malware can replicate itself ad infinitum. And while a missile can often be controlled in some way, malware tends to attack indiscriminately: nobody knows who it will harm, which corners it will worm its way into. On the inscrutable trajectories of the web, as soon as some black hat launches a malicious program to make some quick cash anything can happen. It’s impossible to calculate what effect it will have, what might be affected by accident and how it could even boomerang back to harm its creators. People tend to make mistakes in everything they do – and writing code, malicious or otherwise, is no exception. There are numerous examples of this kind of “collateral damage” – read my previous post about the fortunes of the Internet .
At least we are now seeing some joint efforts to combat cybercriminals.
The security industry is tightening the screws on them, and the big boys like Microsoft are getting involved. Other different non-commercial and intergovernmental organizations are joining in as well. Governments are beginning to understand that the Internet can be a highway to hell, and are waking up to the need to do something about it. So we are seeing some progress.
However, I’m more concerned about another side of Internet security. The tricks of a cybercriminal will seem trifling compared to a large-scale cyberwar on the web. Yes, you read it correctly – a web cyberwar! This is where things start getting much more complicated and murky.
These are the facts.