NATIONAL

Another net Jaws lurks in cyber waters



Anand Parthasarathy

Report warns of threats to pocket computers

Also targeted are hand-helds like the ubiquitous Blackberry e-mailing phone devicesIt is time to brace ourselves for a wave of fresh `bot-net' attacksReport estimates that for Windows XP-based PC to get infected, it takes one hour and 12 seconds

Bangalore: Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the seemingly placid waters of cyberspace, yet another Internet `Jaws' readies to chew up unwary surfers.

And this time, it is targeting all those tiny hand-helds: pocket computers or PDAs personal digital assistants, mobile smart phones even the portable versions of games consoles.

The latest global Internet Security Threat Report, issued on Thursday by Symantec Corporation, warns that "non traditional platforms" including a host of portable productivity devices and gaming consoles, are now in the sharp focus of the Net's baddies because their connectivity to the Internet makes them sitting ducks.

In October 2005, for the first time the Internet security solutions leader logged an attack by malicious code on the PlayStation Portable Sony's iconic entertainment console for the young.

Also targeted are hand-helds like the ubiquitous Blackberry e-mailing phone devices.

The report suggests that a suspicion expressed in earlier editions that there is an organised Net Mafia which is into hacking and entering unsuspecting PCs for profit rather than kicks has been reinforced.

There are big bucks to be made, by compromising sensitive networks and stealing passwords, credit card details and the like.

Another warning: It is time to brace ourselves for a wave of fresh `bot-net' attacks: Bots, short for robots, are programmes that are covertly installed on our machines.

These allow remote agents to take control and use us, as launch pads to attack thousands of other systems.

For the first time, the Symantec report has estimated the time it takes for viruses or worms to compromise a new PC that goes on the Internet, unprotected.

For the Windows XP-based PC that most of the world uses, this is a chilling one hour and 12 seconds.

That is all the time it takes your machine to be infected or taken over unless you have installed the latest patches and firewalls.

Linux-based PCs seem safer at least for now.