Now In Paper-Vision: The Storm Worm

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I have a piece in this week’s Time about the Storm Worm, a remarkably clever, stubborn, well-maintained virus.

What I wanted to get across in the piece, and didn’t really manage to do, is how incredibly weird the whole botnet phenomenon is. I mean, I’ve been reading about them for years, and I’m still trying to get my mind around the idea that organized criminals covertly control massive swarms of hundreds of thousands of networked computers located in office parks and dens the world over. Whoever came up with this stuff is an evil frickin’ genius of the first water. Not that they’ve thought of anything all that interesting to do with them — spam, denial of service, spam, denial of service. Would it kill them to fold a protein once in a while?

I wonder if viruses are just a temporary evolutionary anomaly anyway, depending as they do for their existence on large populations of uninformed Internet users. I mean, virus writers are crafty, but however they gussy it up, a worm looks like a worm. And people can’t stay ignorant forever.

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