Few signs yet of malware threat
TORONTO—A lot more people in Canada were online reading about the latest computer threat rather than suffering through it.
One of the country’s major Internet service providers received less than dozen calls yesterday about an international online security threat that made headlines because it had the potential to take down tens of thousands of computers, including 9,000 in Canada.
Another Internet service provider, TekSavvy, said it also did not see an increase in calls to its technical support department.
The FBI had warned Internet users that many would not be able to surf the web, check e-mail, or go onto social networking sites when it turned off its temporary computer servers that had been set up eight months ago to fight an online scam.
But by yesterday afternoon, there were few reports of computers forced to go offline.
The Internet outage threatened to take down roughly 211,000 computers in the U.S., Canada, and across Europe.
Canadian online security expert Chris Davis says he’s puzzled about why so few Internet users had been hit.
“The only thing I can guess is [they’re] real casual Internet users who essentially don’t use their computer every day maybe,” said Davis, who runs the Ottawa-based Secure Domain Foundation, a non-profit organization tasked with combating malware threats.
“[The malware] is a real thing.”
Last fall, the FBI discovered computer hackers who were involved in an online scam that used fake servers to infiltrate and infect computers, sending users to websites containing rogue ads from which the scammers profited.
When the hacking ring was shut down, the agency set up temporary servers as a safety net so people wouldn’t immediately lose their Internet service.
Davis said malware threats essentially have replaced computer viruses.
“Computer viruses don’t exist anymore,” he noted. “A virus used to get on your computer, mess it up, cause it to crash, and cause all kinds of problems.
“It was malicious for the sake of being malicious.”
Modern-day hackers now use malware, which is much more difficult for the average Internet user to detect.
“Modern malware is designed to get on your computer,” said Davis.
“It’s designed to evade all of the security software that you could possibly purchase in this day and age.
“Once it’s on there, it hides. It’s incredibly stealthy,” he added.