Hype About Conficker and Other Big Viruses Undermining IT Security, Says FBI

By John Wagley

Increasing media coverage of large-scale IT security threats such as the recent Conficker worm could be undermining IT security, according to an FBI official, speaking at the recent RSA Conference in San Francisco.

Growing media focus on IT security is helping raise awareness, he said, but it could be distracting people from more serious IT threats, said Shawn Henry, assistant director of the FBI’s Cyber Division. 
One problem with such media coverage is that if the public does not feel an immediate impact, it may start ignoring future IT advisories.
IT threats, in fact, appear to be heading in the opposite direction of large scale viruses and worms. Malware is becoming increasingly targeted, according to numerous reports. Often made from a growing selection of toolkits, highly customizable code frequently reaches targets via infected Web pages and e-mail.
Cyber criminals are also increasingly harvesting individuals’ credit card numbers, banking credentials, and other private information, according to the most recent Symantec Internet Security Threat Report.
Conficker was not harmless: global infections reached more than three million in the first quarter of 2009, according to Symantec.
But it was a small part of the picture. As attacks become more targeted, it becomes more important for individuals to better understand the threats, said Henry.
“Much of computer security comes down to the end users’ situational awareness.”
♦ Photo by momentimedia/Flickr



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