June 29, 2004
After getting up early and scoping out the Net for new and interesting stories to post, I ran across several articles detailing a new form of malware that supposedly hides in Web site graphics, and will download a package to a computer running IE, without the user even knowing it. No one is sure what this package will do; it could be spyware doing keystroke logging, or could be a way to turn an infected computer into an unwitting spam generator. Time, unfortunately, will tell.
Now, after reading this, I was not terribly concerned, since the one Windows machine in the house runs Netscape, and this lovely new piece of malware affacts only those unfortunate running Internet Explorer. But, when my wife came in to say goodbye before she went to work, I said this to her:
"If you surf at work today, you may want to rethink it. There's a new virus hiding out in images out on the Web."
"On which sites?," my intelligent spouse asked.
"They don't know yet, or they're not saying," her not-so-intelligent husband replied.
And as we were having this exchange, I realized that this tiny little conversation had to be the most insane thing I said or will say today. It boiled down to: there's a virus out there that will hit your IE-running computers and you won't know where or when it hits.
Now, to be fair, later today I learned that this immediate threat had been thwarted, because they managed to shut down the Russian server all this malware was sending information to. The malware is still out there, still infecting IE-running PCs, except now it's effectively rendered toothless. Not by a patch or a fix from Microsoft, understand.
And, after all of this, that's when it dawned on me: Internet Explorer must die.
Not be fixed. Not be patched. Be dead, as in no one in their right mind should use it anymore.
This is a piece of software--a closed source, and therefore supposedly (ha!) more secure piece of software, mind you--that is constantly having innumerable flaws exposed and taken advantage of. In the recent past, it was download this, and you're doomed. Open this, and you're in trouble.
Now, it's: open any page on a Web site running a Microsoft Internet Information Server, and you potentially could be infected.
Read this again: By opening a page. With pictures.
I say that this sort of irreponsibility must be stopped and stopped now. The public must be made aware that while Microsoft is certainly not responsible for the behavior of crackers behaving the way they do, they are certainly responsible for creating such a fertile field for them to play in.
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