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View Full Version : What's wrong with this newspaper report?



Sealbhach
April 23rd, 2009, 04:43 PM
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/9f6d9950-2ed7-11de-b7d3-00144feabdc0.html

And this one:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/ukraine/5198275/Hackers-hijack-1.9-million-computers-worldwide.html


I was looking for the word "Windows" somewhere, but didn't see it. Are macs affected? No. Are Linux, BSD, Open Solaris etc machines affected? No.

I think it should be compulsory to name the operating system which hosts the virus when coverigns stories like this.


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Maheriano
April 23rd, 2009, 04:46 PM
Computers are Windows, duh!

ninjapirate89
April 23rd, 2009, 04:53 PM
Although it would be good publicity for non-Windows operating systems, I don't think it's important that the newspaper mention that this only affects Windows users because people who are already using non-windows os's know that they are oblivious to these things while the average reader using windows will read the paper knowing that it will affect their computer. I hope I worded that right. It sounds right in my head.

Sealbhach
April 23rd, 2009, 05:10 PM
If people saw the word "Windows" every time they saw the words "virus, botnet, hackers, worm" it would create an association in their minds. Instead, they see the word "computers" which includes Macs, Linux, BSD and everything else.


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MikeTheC
April 23rd, 2009, 05:38 PM
I don't know if any of us here would make it in the world of journalism (particularly as it functions today), but speaking for myself, if I were writing articles of any stripe, particularly technology-based ones, I'd try to at least have enough pride in myself and my integrity to report this story accurately. I dunno, how about something like the following:


ARTICLE 1: Global hunt for hackers who infected 1.9m computers

The Federal Bureau of Investigations and London's Metropolitan Police are hunting a gang of six hackers based in Ukraine who hijacked 1.9m Windows-based computers round the world, including machines at more than 70 government departments and hundreds of large corporations.

It is the largest network of hijacked computers - a botnet - uncovered and at least four times larger than botnets discovered in the past that comprised 200,000 to 500,000 computers.

In the UK alone, more than 500 companies were caught in the network of infected machines, including large and small businesses. However, users of Apple, Inc.'s Mac OS X and the various Linux operating systems were not among those affected.

Six UK local government computers were compromised, while in the US computers at both federal and local government level were infiltrated, according to Yuval Ben-Itzhak, chief executive of Finjan, the information technology security company that discovered the network.

He declined to name the businesses affected but said they included some of the largest global corporations. "With this many computers affected, everyone was there on the list - the US federal government, big universities, very large public companies," he said.

The server from which the botnet was run is no longer in operation but the hackers will be able to set up a new one should they remain at large. "The speed at which they were able to infect so many people was astounding. If these people are still out there, they can start all over again very quickly," said Mr Ben-Itzhak.

When asked what the Government's technology diversification plans were, in particular with the inclusion of other operating systems demonstrably unaffected by these and all prior such attacks,

The 1.9m computer botnet was created between February and March this year.

Hackers can infect computers in different ways: by sending e-mails containing viruses or by taking over legitimate websites so that they transmit malicious software code to everyone that visits the sites.

Criminals can use botnets for various purposes: they can steal personal details and account information stored on the machines or they can control the machines remotely, instructing them to send out spam e-mails and viruses.

They could also be used to mount a "denial of service" attack, in which a large number of computers all try to contact a company or country's computer systems at the same time, causing the system to crash.

In May 2007, several Estonian government websites were brought down in this way.


ARTICLE 2: [i]Hackers hijack 1.9 million Windows-based computers worldwide

A gang of hackers which has hijacked 1.9 million computers around the world is being hunted by the Metropolitan Police and the FBI.

The Ukrainan network has taken control of hundreds of large corporations and 77 government departments.

It is at least four times larger than previous hi-jackings of usually around 200,000 to 500,000 computers.

In the UK alone, more than 500 companies were caught in the network of infected machines, including both large and small businesses, the Financial Times reported.

Six UK local government computers were compromised, while in the US, computers at both federal and local government level were infiltrated, said Yuval Ben-Itzhak, chief executive of Finjan, the IT security company that discovered the network.

None of the business has been named but are believed to include some of the largest global corporations.

"With this many computers affected, everyone was there on the list the US Federal government, big universities, very large public companies," Mr Ben-Itzhak said.

Hackers have created a 'botnet' where all the computers are linked. It is believed to have happened in February and March this year.

"The speed at which they were able to infect so many people was astounding. If these people are still out there, they can start all over again very quickly," Mr Ben-Itzhak said.

When asked if Government, business and the public should be made aware that the demographic of affected machines is 100% Microsoft operating system-based computers, Mr Ben-Itzhak responded [insert some kind of interesting response here from Mr. Ben-Itzhak.]

Criminals use botnets to steal personal details and account information stored in the machines. Or they can control the machines remotely, instructing them to send out spam e-mails and viruses.

MikeTheC
April 23rd, 2009, 05:56 PM
BTW... Follow-up to previous post...

I found Maija Palmer and Sarah Knapton on FaceBook and sent the following questions to them:


Hello... Just read your article on the latest botnet in the Financial Times and I am curious: Did you ask any of the people you spoke with about diversification of technological assets, such as *not* running Windows exclusively? As a user of Mac OS X and Ubuntu Linux, it is with some befuddlement that I never seem to see mentioned in the press anywhere the truth in such articles, that is (while no OS is perfect) that the only systems affected are Windows-based ones? Thanks!


Got a quick question. Having just read your article regarding the 1.9 million compromised computers, did you ask either Mr. Ben-Itzhak or any government officials why they don't diversify their tech assets by using other operating systems -- such as either Mac OS X or Linux -- neither of which were compromised here or have been in prior such attacks? Thanks!

It's about darned time we hold members of the press accountable for their actions and false "credibility".

JohnFH
April 23rd, 2009, 06:06 PM
NinjaPirate has a point. Since the vast majoity of computer users use a Windows OS, why would the newspaper feel the need to report that it only affects Windows users? It would be a bit like saying that the petrol cost increase will have a detrimental effect on car owners. I don't need to mention that it wouldn't affect the very small number of people who have electric cars, do I?

ninjapirate89
April 23rd, 2009, 06:30 PM
NinjaPirate has a point. Since the vast majoity of computer users use a Windows OS, why would the newspaper feel the need to report that it only affects Windows users? It would be a bit like saying that the petrol cost increase will have a detrimental effect on car owners. I don't need to mention that it wouldn't affect the very small number of people who have electric cars, do I?

Thank you for putting that in a way that makes more sense. That is exactly what I mean.

Sealbhach
April 24th, 2009, 12:24 AM
NinjaPirate has a point. Since the vast majoity of computer users use a Windows OS, why would the newspaper feel the need to report that it only affects Windows users? It would be a bit like saying that the petrol cost increase will have a detrimental effect on car owners. I don't need to mention that it wouldn't affect the very small number of people who have electric cars, do I?

How about diesel user? And Macs have a significant market share now.

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Giant Speck
April 24th, 2009, 12:39 AM
*practices news anchor voice*

In agricultural news, a new strain of fungus is killing orange crops in Florida. Please be advised that this fungus does not affect apples or kumquats.

JK3mp
April 24th, 2009, 12:42 AM
*practices news anchor voice*

In agricultural news, a new strain of fungus is killing orange crops in Florida. Please be advised that this fungus does not affect apples or kumquats.

LOL! :p

lisati
April 24th, 2009, 12:45 AM
Good luck to them trying to prosecute a botnet or the people who allowed their computers to be used in such a fashion :)

k2t0f12d
April 24th, 2009, 12:49 AM
Good luck to them trying to prosecute a botnet or the people who allowed their computers to be used in such a fashion :)Kia oro.
The muzzle of the conspiracy of silence continues unabated.

aysiu
April 24th, 2009, 12:49 AM
NinjaPirate has a point. Since the vast majoity of computer users use a Windows OS, why would the newspaper feel the need to report that it only affects Windows users? It would be a bit like saying that the petrol cost increase will have a detrimental effect on car owners. I don't need to mention that it wouldn't affect the very small number of people who have electric cars, do I?
I don't think this comparison makes sense.

Electric cars by definition do not use petrol as fuel.

But it's not by definition that malware affects only Windows. Malware seems to be rampant amongst Windows computers. And Mac OS X and Linux have better security than Windows, but malware could conceivably affect Mac OS X and Linux, so any article talking about a malware outbreak should specify whether it affects Windows only, another operating system only, or more than one operating system.

MikeTheC
April 24th, 2009, 02:00 AM
To those who can't seem to get it through their skulls why the news reports should have been more specific, it's to be honest with the public regarding what has been affected. If you cannot see the value in journalistic integrity, then you're the one with the problem, not us.

Anyhow, Maija was nice enough to respond:


The malware was exclusively infecting computers running Windows XP. It is a good point that using different operating systems would give some protection. Although, I suspect, if these other operating systems increased in popularity, they would inreasingly [sic] be targeted by hackers.

You'll note, however, the curious absence of an explanation as to why she failed to mention this particular detail in her article. Grr...

Giant Speck
April 24th, 2009, 02:23 AM
You'll note, however, the curious absence of an explanation as to why she failed to mention this particular detail in her article. Grr...

That's because it's obvious that it's all a giant conspiracy and that all major media outlets are being paid off by Microsoft to keep their mouths shut about other operating systems.

Chang An
April 24th, 2009, 02:28 AM
Well, we also can digg this and voice our discontent here (http://digg.com/world_news/Hackers_Hijack_1_9_Million_Computers_Worldwide?OTC-fft-6).

MikeTheC
April 24th, 2009, 08:10 AM
Well, we also can digg this and voice our discontent here (http://digg.com/world_news/Hackers_Hijack_1_9_Million_Computers_Worldwide?OTC-fft-6).

No thank you. I left Digg and have no desire ever to return.

Swagman
April 24th, 2009, 08:18 AM
How about this tech page then...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/default.stm

Where's the mention of Jaunty's release ?

thewolfman
April 24th, 2009, 09:01 AM
Everyone seems to be missing something from the articles which would be: Linux is also open to attack from botnets and viruses and misuse. Just because there are fewer known viruses for Linux, it doesn't mean that a Linux or Mac PC is any safer than a Windows PC.

If the criminals or hackers or jokers or whatever; want to find a way into your PC they will.

They may not be able to infect your PC but they can use it as a springboard to infect others.

So use a firewall and scan for viruses now and again, it may not stop the blighters but it may help slow them down.

PS: Happy St Geprges Day (Belated)

blueturtl
April 24th, 2009, 09:06 AM
Aren't we a little quick in jumping to conclusions on this one? Just because they don't specify which systems are affected doesn't mean it's only Windows-based systems. With almost two million computers affected I'd be surprised if there weren't some Apples and Linux systems in there too, though experience tells me most of those have to be Windows workstations.

If we're talking about corporate networks, the stronger systems could be compromised by the weaker ones. Lets say a Windows workstation running on a company LAN gets infected. The perpetrators could then use the workstation to work at the company's server (probably not running Windows). If they have a design department they'll have a few Macs running in there too. These systems while probably not as vulnerable from the outside, can sometimes be easy prey on the inside because of lax company security policy or lazy admins ("who needs a strong root password here, they'd have to be inside" etc.).

Just saying.

Sealbhach
April 24th, 2009, 09:59 AM
Aren't we a little quick in jumping to conclusions on this one? Just because they don't specify which systems are affected doesn't mean it's only Windows-based systems.
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It was only Windows XP. See earlier post in this thread.


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Sealbhach
April 24th, 2009, 10:00 AM
Everyone seems to be missing something from the articles which would be: Linux is also open to attack from botnets and viruses and misuse. Just because there are fewer known viruses for Linux, it doesn't mean that a Linux or Mac PC is any safer than a Windows PC.



That would not be news that would be speculation.

The event reported involved only computers running Windows XP and should be reported accurately.


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thewolfman
April 25th, 2009, 07:37 AM
That would not be news that would be speculation.

The event reported involved only computers running Windows XP and should be reported accurately.


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Sorry but in the article I can find no mention of any OS; XP or Linux/Mac so I still stick by my original statement and that being:

"All PC's regardless of what OS they are running are open to abuse/misuse"

There are sadly a lot of sad people who have nothing better to do than create a virus and try to make our lives miserable. They should maybe get help or invest their time in being creative in the software world because they do have the talent.
The criminals I can understand more because their goal is our money!.

thewolfman

lisati
April 25th, 2009, 07:41 AM
How about this tech page then...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/default.stm

Where's the mention of Jaunty's release ?

Microsoft suffers a sales dip? The plug is being pulled on Geocities? I suppose I'd better learn about setting up my own server and hosting my own web sites.....