Can you trust anyone?

In today’s news in the UK there is a report on how firms are faring on data protection. If you believe the headlines then the answer is ‘badly’. Browsing a BBC News article I came across the usual list of advice for keeping yourself safe online.

Number one is, of course, keep your anti-virus up to date. The second piece of advice was never to store your passwords on the computer.  If the number of people without anti-virus software is large then just how large is the number of people who store their passwords in some form on their computer? Even if you are one of the few people who don’t store passwords in some form then what about those keyloggers that keep being produced? And what about all those bots that have many methods of extracting data off your computer?

The number of pieces of malware that steal information is vast. Yesterday, SophosLabs released protection for W32/Sdbot-DFZ – just one of many families of malware. There is nothing significant about this particular bot but following the nomenclature for variants I worked out that -DFZ equates to the 2885th version of that bot. Protection for the first Sdbot was released in September 2003. That equates to approximately 2 new variants every day since September 2003 just for this one family of worms.

I cannot even begin to guess at the number of families of malware that exist. Maybe, just maybe, if everyone followed the advice given for safe browsing online then there might be a reduction in the amount of malware written. In reality I expect we’ll be writing protection for another bot fairly soon.

Learn more about safe computing practices and some simple advice for more sensible password use.