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Kelly Martin

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Why Vista will take a back seat for a few years

Comment Vista is a step forward in security, but many businesses will be stuck with Windows XP for years to come, due to the cost of upgrading, the value of existing assets, and compatibility issues that trump security features. As I write this, Microsoft is launching the consumer version of Vista in New York, apparently with dancers …
Kelly Martin, 01 Feb 2007
globalisation

PHP apps: security's low-hanging fruit

PHP has become the most popular application language on the web, but common security mistakes by developers are giving PHP a bad name. Here's how PHP coding errors have become the new low-hanging fruit for attackers, contributing to the phishing problems on the web. PHP became one of my favorite languages because of how quickly …
Kelly Martin, 11 Jan 2007
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Viruses, phishing, and trojans for profit

Comment Following the 2006 International Virus Bulletin Conference, Kelly Martin takes a look at the profit motives of the cyber criminals behind modern viruses, targeted trojans, phishing scams, and botnet attacks that are stealing millions from organisations and individuals. Virus Bulletin 2006, the international virus conference, …
Kelly Martin, 26 Oct 2006
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The time has come to ditch email

Comment Back in 1972, by some accounts, a new form of communication known as email was born. It was a practical implementation of electronic messaging that was first seen on local timeshare computers in the 1960s. I can only imagine how much fun and revolutionary it must have been to use email in those early years, to have been at the …
Kelly Martin, 01 Jun 2006
globalisation

Stop the bots

I found the opening scene to the 1991 movie sequel, Terminator 2, to be one of the most powerful SciFi film openings ever. There's a massive firestorm, chunky metal warriors waging war against humans, and then the camera zooms into a metal robot foot crushing a human skull. It’s very graphic. The world has been taken over by …
Kelly Martin, 20 Apr 2006
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Privacy and anonymity

Privacy and anonymity on the internet are as important as they are difficult to achieve. Here are some of the the current issues we face, along with a few suggestions on how to be more anonymous. Online privacy issues are in the news every week now. This is good for us, because when it's newsworthy and notable it means people …
Kelly Martin, 15 Feb 2006
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Zero-day holiday

A few hundred million Windows XP machines lay vulnerable on the web today, a week after a zero-day exploit was discovered. Meanwhile, new approaches and ideas from the academic world - that focus exclusively on children - may give us hope for the future after all. For this month’s column I had planned to write a positive, …
Kelly Martin, 05 Jan 2006
hands waving dollar bills in the air

Two-factor banking

People who lived through the Second World War, like my grandparents, had a very different view of money than those of us who grew up in the Information Age. Many of us still remember being told how foolish it is to keep one's life savings under a bed mattress, because the banks were known as trusted entities that will always do …
Kelly Martin, 19 Oct 2005
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Hackers are all B'stards now

Comment If there's one thing I've learned in the past few years as editor of SecurityFocus, it's that there is absolutely no saving grace in the security world. Everyone is a target, everyone is vulnerable and exposed, and no one is safe from, well... anything. I had a revelation the other day. I'm sorry it took me this long to figure …
Kelly Martin, 16 Sep 2005
homeless man with sign

Security still underfunded

Comment Blackhat is one of my favorite places to do some casual online banking over an insecure WiFi connection. Where's the risk, right? All joking aside, Blackhat is in fact a great place to do some deep thought on the current state of the security industry. Yes, the industry has grown a great deal and many things are now big. There' …
Kelly Martin, 08 Aug 2005
cloud

Security meltdown: who's to blame?

If there's one thing the security industry is really good at, it's pointing fingers. We all like to say that "security starts with you", so that everyone can share a piece of the mud pie. While we're pointing fingers, let's look at a few groups and individuals and see how they can share the blame for their own insecurity - and …
Kelly Martin, 06 Jul 2005
For Sale sign detail

Microsoft Anti-Virus?

Comment Microsoft's announcement that it will enter the AV market next year, with initial trials starting next week, could be a sign of many things to come, says SecurityFocus's Kelly Martin. There's an old Canadian saying about a salesman who is so good at sales and marketing that he can "sell ice to an Eskimo" - and although Eskimo …
Kelly Martin, 15 May 2005
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Apple's Big Virus

After your identity has been stolen, your bank accounts compromised, 53 critical patches and 27 reboots later, when will you decide that you've had enough? Back in 1984, William Gibson's Neuromancer had an incredibly bleak view of our future with technology -- from social decay to daily security breaches based on greed and …
Kelly Martin, 21 Apr 2005
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It's time to pick your favourite virus

Comment The other day I was browsing through the top virus threats for February and March 2005, looking at the assorted nastiness, when a funny thought occurred to me: is it possible to pick a favorite virus (or virus family)? I think it is. We can look at their innovations and evolution with a source of envy, even if we universally …
Kelly Martin, 10 Mar 2005
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Vxers are more innovative than big software firms

Comment There's more innovation coming from today's virus writers than from the big software companes whose core goals are to progress and innovate, says SecurityFocus columnist Kelly Martin. Viruses grew by over 25 per cent in 2004. We're at about 115,000 viruses today, and the virus variants and mutations continue to grown in record …
Kelly Martin, 18 Feb 2005
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Mobile virus epidemics: don't panic

Every time I lose my mobile phone, which happens far too often, I'm given the opportunity to check out the latest and greatest phone technologies available. This is great stuff. They have zoom lenses for pictures and Quicktime videos, they have high resolution color screens, wireless data access for my laptop, they play MP3s, …
Kelly Martin, 28 Jan 2005
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Microsoft Anti-Spyware?

Column Microsoft has jumped into the anti-spyware market, but is this a new approach to thwarting bugs, or is it gearing up to profit from a dubious industry it helped create? The ink is barely dry from Microsoft's acquisition of the GIANT Company Software, and already they are offering the first public beta release of a new …
Kelly Martin, 07 Jan 2005
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Invasion of the identity snatchers

Last year I was the victim of identity theft, a sobering reality in today's world. An unscrupulous criminal managed to social engineer his way past the formidable security checks and balances provided by my credit card company, my bank, and one of my investment accounts. He methodically researched my background and personal …
Kelly Martin, 24 Sep 2004
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The polluted Internet

Comment I've spent a significant amount of time in New Delhi - which was, until a few years ago, one of the most polluted cities on the planet - and I've seen the effects of all those toxic fumes. A low cloud of fog lines the narrow streets at night, and the pollution seeps in through the windows while most people are fast asleep, …
Kelly Martin, 27 Aug 2004
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When spyware crosses the line

One of my friends called me in a panic the other day. It seems his eight-year-old daughter was surfing the Internet, searching for Barbie dolls, games designed for children, and other things of interest to eight-year-old girls, when something bad popped up on the screen. She may not have understood what she saw, but she knew it …
Kelly Martin, 24 Jun 2004
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The Wi-Fi explosion: a virus writer's dream

Opinion With the consumer Wi-Fi explosion, launching a virus into the wild has never been easier and more anonymous than it is today. Like a sneeze in a crowded subway, it's hard to find the human source of the latest viral infection. On the Internet it's not much different. The people who write these nasty little programs and release …
Kelly Martin, 09 Jun 2004
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Witty extinction

The "Witty" worm appeared on 19 March, and within a few short days it completed its mission and effectively disappeared. It received minimal coverage by the major news media outlets and for many people it has already been largely forgotten, a mere blip on the radar among so many blips of new viruses and virus variants that …
Kelly Martin, 07 Apr 2004
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Delivering the 12kb Bomb

The average size of email-bourne viruses so far this year has been well under 20 kilobytes. A young virus writer, sitting in his underwear in his parent's dark basement, takes a hex editor and modifies a few bytes of the latest Netsky.M (16.5kb), Beagle.J (12kb) or Mydoom.G (20kb) mutation, spawns a new virus variant, and then …
Kelly Martin, 17 Mar 2004
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Click on this, you muthas

If hundreds of thousands of people are still blindly clicking on attachments in their email, is there any hope of mitigating the threat of hundreds of thousands of compromised systems with open backdoors? There's a myth that should be dispelled in the computer security world, and that is the belief that the growing and …
Kelly Martin, 23 Feb 2004