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Conjuring Conficker and GhostNet

malware in the news

Stories about the Conficker worm have been spreading, worm-like, through both online and offline media, while the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto has documented an extensive espionage botnet they've called GhostNet.

News of the spread of the Conficker worm has intensified with speculation that, on April 1, something will happen. Indeed, Jonathan Zittrain was recently interviewed for a 60 Minutes story on malware generally, and Conficker specifically (his segments were cut from Sunday's TV version, but you can find them on the 60 Minutes website). Now would probably be a good time to make sure that your software is patched and up to date, along with your virus protection. StopBadware.org and Consumer Reports WebWatch's BadwareBusters.org community is an excellent place to find (or provide) help with fighting viruses and spyware.

Meanwhile, as They say, our colleagues and OpenNet Initiative collaborators at the Citizen Lab, based at the Munk Center for International Studies at the University of Toronto, have opened the lid on an Internet espionage operation -- malware, at root -- that has affected over a thousand computers in over a hundred countries! Their report, Tracking GhostNet: Investigating a Cyber Espionage Network, was the subject of an exclusive in the New York Times over the weekend. Berkman's Internet & Democracy project commented here.

For another perspective on the issues raised by malware like Conficker and GhostNet: Dr. Phillip Hallam-Baker, Principal Scientist at VeriSign Inc., will be speaking at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory on Thursday. The topic? "From CyberCrime to CyberConflict: The Infrastructure of Crime and Worse to Come."

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