Averting Doom

By the time you read this newsletter, the MyDoom.A and MyDoom.B worms will have launched Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks against the SCO Group's Web site as well as Microsoft's Web site. As I write this column, the attack against SCO is under way, and the attack against Microsoft should start in the next 24 hours.

Experiencing a DDoS attack is undoubtedly grueling, but you can take steps to defend yourself from such an attack. I'm not sure how Microsoft plans to handle the attack against it, aside from using massive bandwidth and processing power and hoping that the company's resources are greater than the worms' consumption of them. The SCO Group's approach to handling the attack is interesting: The company removed the www.sco.com DNS record so that lookups for that record would fail and established an alternative domain for their Web site, www.thescogroup.com. Of course this solution isn't perfect because it stops all systems--both clean systems and systems infected with the worm--from reaching the company's Web site at its former address, but it does mitigate a complete DoS. Having been forewarned of the attack, SCO could take such steps.

Preventing the spread of such nuisances is a simple matter of common sense computer usage. The fact that such nuisances are still propagated far and wide shows that plenty of users still don't understand the risks. Nor do they seem to realize that even more virulent, destructive viruses or worms (imagine a worm that wipes out your hard disk!) will almost certainly be unleashed on the Internet, probably sooner rather than later. I'm still amazed when I learn of someone who doesn't at least use a firewall and antivirus software. We can all help make the Internet a bit safer by educating our friends and family to use such tools.

As you know, not all antivirus software and firewalls are equal. I haven't found a resource that compares the features, capabilities, and functionality of the major antivirus software products, so if you know of one, please send me an email message to let me know about it. I do know of a site, PC Flank, that compares the strength of personal firewalls. Take a look at the URL below to see how well 24 personal firewalls protect users' system and information, and consider these findings when recommending personal firewall software to your family, friends, and associates.


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