Feeds

Scary movie 2.0

Computer virus slasher flick

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

On Halloween, "The Mangler 2.0" virus took over my TV. It's a horror movie from Artisan Entertainment now available on VHS and DVD. The screenplay was written in nine whole days, bragged the credits.

It was just like real life.

First off, there is this rich girl, Jo. She's angry at her never-home pop so she puts a virus into his corporate network.

You can tell she knows that what she's doing is wrong even while driven by the evil compulsion. It's the purple lipstick, invasion of company property after midnight and the cat-burglar wear that give it away.

Although only a caricature, Jo rates more respect than ninny Jan de Wit, the spreader of the Kournikova virus. He asked a Dutch court to swallow the idea that he didn't mean to cause damage when he sent the virus worldwide in a Usenet newsgroup in February 2001.

De Wit got 150 hours of community service for it, six days and change, and appealed that on the claim -- try not to laugh -- that it might hurt his career as a computer store clerk, The Register reported.

The court proved immune to these piteous cries and upheld the sentence, anyway.

By way of contrast, Englishman Chris Pile was served eighteen months in a UK big house in 1995 for spreading a crummy MS-DOS virus called "Smeg." The Independent described Pile as "a mad and reclusive boffin who wreaked havoc on computer systems." "[You] cannot expect lenient treatment," said the English judge on the case. Pile obviously just didn't have the right pull.

But back to the Mangler's Jo, who received about the same as de Wit but much less than Pile for her computer virus devilment.

For this trouble in The Mangler 2.0, Jo gets sent to a boarding school, named the Royal Collegiate College or something, run by Lance Henricksen.

Henricksen has installed a SCADA system which controls the networked campus through smart chips embedded in everything. Much like actual practice, this commercial-off-the-shelf product is being "beta-tested" by the civilians before the U.S. military buys it by the gross.

You know that's a recipe for disaster, and straight off one of Jo's equally shady pals defaces headmaster Henricksen's likeness on the school's web page!

"I used to be quite a practical joker in my youth, too," he growls, "but this I cannot ignore."

A Mangled Web

Jo loses her field trip rights and has to spend the weekend at the school, kind of like doing community service. In recidivist fashion she checks into The Hacker Gal chat room, an unhappy hacker nexus, and grabs a copy of Mangler 2.0, a virus promised to bring pain and humiliation to enemies. She's so bad she sneaks the virus into the school system through Henricksen's computer while he's out of the office. (There's a hidden message here for de Wit's court.)

About the only character in the movie with an ounce of brains is the school's French Quebec chef, a fellow deeply suspicious of his desktop computer. "Tabernac! I will keel you!" he swears at it.

For being frank, Mangler 2.0 traps him in the meat freezer by jamming the electronic lock.

At this point, The Mangler 2.0 swerves wildly into the world of Richard Clarke and Howard Schmidt.

Clarke has repeated many times that the electricity can be turned off by cyber-attack and that if this happens, people will die. The writer of the flick must have had been paying attention to the man because Mangler 2.0 turns off the lights at the school and that's when people begin to die.

The first guy to go is the janitor, a porno fiend, who is killed off-screen by a computerized hedge-trimmer.

And while there were no traffic lights or pacemakers to malfunction, Howard Schmidt would still be pleased because appliances linked to the network were misfiring everywhere. At one point, a student is parboiled when a hot water pipe is opened on him, which -- in miniature -- is kind of like the story in the Washington Post earlier this year about a hacker who might have been able to open a dam.

The only unrealistic thing about The Mangler 2.0 was that the most buxom girl on the cast was caught in her bikini underwear in the natatorium when the virus hit. Then she had to run around with her shirt off for the rest of the movie. That would never happen.

Don't ask how it ended. I was so scared I fainted dead away before the finish.

© 2002 SecurityFocus.com, all rights reserved.

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

More from The Register

next story
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
Four fake Google haxbots hit YOUR WEBSITE every day
Goog the perfect ruse to slip into SEO orfice
Putin: Crack Tor for me and I'll make you a MILLIONAIRE
Russian Interior Ministry offers big pile o' roubles for busting pro-privacy browser
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.