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Security Watch

Microsoft At War With Botnets

Botnets, or a network of automated software agents that can run automatically and autonomously, are the latest IT security scourge Microsoft touched on in its latest Security Intelligence Report, Volume 9.
 
The report revealed that Microsoft cleaned more than 6.5 million computers with botnet infections, double the amount over the same period a year ago. The report introduced last week at the RSA Conference Europe 2010 catalogs software security threats worldwide for the first half of 2010.
 
So what's Microsoft done about it recently?
 
Well, Redmond said that last week the latest iteration of its Malicious Software Removal Tool has removed Zbot 281,491 times from 274,873 computers and is the No. 1 family of malware removed, according to Microsoft's Jeff Williams.

Williams said "of the 1,344,669 computers cleaned, this is about 1 in 5, a ratio that's higher than we typically see even when accounting for the normal, first-month spike which results from adding a new family but not exceptionally so."
 
Related: Derek Manky, project manager for cybersecurity and threat research at Fortinet said his company has discovered that hackers are dispatching Zeus botnets to pillage Charles Schwab investment accounts.
 
A Safer Adobe Reader
As I've frequently mentioned in this column, Adobe's PDF documents and some of Adobe's other multimedia products have been among the most targeted by hackers who like to take the embed route.
 
Adobe has and continues to vibe with Microsoft on ways to stave off some of those attacks that, by extension, affect Windows users and Windows enterprise IT environments.
 
Now Adobe is following up on a plan first conceived in 2009 and updated this summer: to implement Adobe Reader "protected mode." Specifically Adobe Reader X, the next release of the program to view PDF documents, will feature the same "sandboxing" technology common in Google's Chrome browser and Microsoft Office 2010.
 
Feds Go Down Under for Security
A Washington Post piece says the U.S. government is looking at how the Aussies are rolling out a service that informs Internet users that they've been hacked.

The article said lawmakers and members of the Obama administration are reviewing the Australian system, which is set to roll out in December and is part of a larger strategy to come up with ways to help users and SMBs.

Howard Schmidt, White House cyber security coordinator, confirmed to the Associated Press that the U.S. government is in talks with the Aussies on "cyber-quarantine" technology and about how and if the two countries should collaborate.

"Without security you have no privacy. And many of us that care deeply about our privacy look to make sure our systems are secure," Schmidt told the AP, saying that internet service providers (ISPs) would be an integral part of the process.

How private users and businesses will react to such government intervention remains to be seen, but this announcement shows how serious Web security has become.

About the Author

Jabulani Leffall is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in the Financial Times of London, Investor's Business Daily, The Economist and CFO Magazine, among others.

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