Monday, April 6, 2009

Conficker - When will people get it?

Conficker was big time hyped in the media last week. What makes Conficker so special and raise its media worthiness status? Its just another piece of malware code infecting yet more Windows boxes turning them into spam spewing zombies or identity theft honeypots. By Symantec estimates Windows claim to fame in 2008 is over 1 Million Viruses and other flu causing agents are now floating around the Internet. Why are media outlets focusing on one or the other at any one time.

Shock and Awe. Simple as that. Media whether its TV, Radio, Print or other need sensational headlines. On the flip side hearing regular reports about each new Virus or piece or malware makes no sense and would eventually be counterproductive. People would stop listening. But splash the latest malware name everywhere and people listen.

However this is bad security... Viruses and malware work because people don't know or just don't care. Most don't understand the realities of malware infection, SPAM and Identity Theft. Most users I speak to don't understand and when I sit down and explain how things work they're amazed and shocked.

I think education is the key to a safer computing and Internet environment. It works in a business environment. When I've conducted training sessions with my users, I see a higher long term awareness of malware and Spam avoidance. Throwing more money into bigger and better Anti-Virus software isn't the answer. Users must take ownership of their machines and must understand the consequences of not protecting themselves. Until this happens Viruses and malware will continue their free ride from oblivious users.

Media outlets can help by spreading the education news. Instead of reporting splashy new malware, instead why not educate users how to protect themselves. Sure its not a headline grabber but if you repeat something 20 times it becomes a habit.

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