Here we go again with more concerns over a new virus
that will overrun the Web and destroy all in its path.
Well maybe. Then again, maybe this time we're smart
enough. Maybe this time we'll catch the tricks and the
cons and this time the virus will stop dead in its tracks.
Nah. This one will get us too. It won't destroy the earth,
but it will play havoc with a few systems. This one's
called, "Nimda." It sounds like a Disney character
doesn't it? I think it was first seen in the Lion King if
I'm not mistaken.
We keep getting hit again and again with these viruses.
Wow. These virus-making programmers must be
stunning at hacking and cracking, right?
Nope. They are good at something they termed, "Social
If there were an easy way, and a difficult way, of getting
the same job done, I would guess that most people would
choose the easy way. These virus programmers are just
like anybody else. They like the easy route. It's hard to
hack into a system. It's time consuming to find
passwords and get in there and place a virus.
It's easy to get you to install the virus yourself. That's
It's a hacker mind game. How can we trick you, one
more time, into opening and running our new virus?
That's the question to be answered. Answer it correctly
and you...well win, I guess.
Super hacker Kevin Mitnick describes Social Engineering
as gaining the trust of another person. In his "day," he
would get on the phone and call those who knew the
passwords he needed. He knew the lingo. He knew how
to phrase his questions. He would mind game his way
right past any employee concern and kind people would
give him what he needed in a three-minute phone call.
Then he was off to the races.
Today the art of Social Engineering is much more
sophisticated. These emailed and wormed-in viruses
don't have a soothing, kind voice on the other end of a
phone. They have to carry the persuasion right along
Think back. Do you remember the ILOVEYOU virus? It
was one of the first emailed viruses to hit it big. Can you
see why? Psychologist Michelle Weil knows why. She
states that the hacker played on the feelings of the reader.
Who wouldn't want to open a love note? The timing of
the hack was equally as brilliant. It was near Valentines
That's some good Social Engineering right there!
What about others? Some offered a funny joke. Others
offered naked pictures of famous celebrities. Others
offered deals on mother's day gifts. If you hit the right
person and tug on the right heartstring, your email is
I think the epiphany in terms of hacking and Social
Engineering was when someone figured out how to make
one email program send messages to another without the
user knowing it.
An email that shows up, in your mailbox, from a friend,
is a very hard thing to resist. Let's have a round of
applause for whoever came up with that one.
Let's turn it around now.
I stopped by some sites dealing with the psychology of
virus makers and most were in agreement that someone
creates a virus for one, or a combination, of three reasons.
1. To see if it can be done,by them.
It's a test on one's skills.
2. To gain status as one who can write the
most "successful" virus.
3. The thrill of the harm it brings.
The same reason someone vandalizes.
That makes sense. It also leads me to believe that when
the Melissa virus clogged up all of the email portals, that
maybe the virus programmer was upset. He created a
virus that was so well designed that it defeated itself. It
blocked its own path to further explosion.
But by then, the program was out there and so was the
name of the programmer that did it. I won't include it
So here comes Nimda. From what I've read to this point,
it's pretty nasty and it replicates with blinding speed. If it
does what its creator wants, it'll spread all over the place.
It'll bring problems all over the Web. And, maybe in his
or her mind at least, we will have brought it on ourselves.
After all, all the programmer did was send it out. You
pulled the trigger.
As John Lennon sang, "Keep on playing those mind
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