Return of the Anti-Zombies

    Date30 Jun 2005
    6887
    Posted ByBrittany Day
    It's a recurring theme on security discussion lists: Someone ought to build a worm that infects insecure systems and remedies the problems on them.

    Every six months or so someone thinks they're the first one to think of it. So in case any of you think it's a good idea, please stop wasting your time. It's a dreadful idea, it's been tried, and it's failed in the most miserable way. It's a Frankenstein's Monster in an e-mail attachment.

    It is a tempting notion, though, and even respectable researchers have looked into it. Here's a PowerPoint presentation on "automated strike-back systems" from a BlackHat conference in 2002. The author asks a lot of the right questions, but ultimately comes up with the wrong answer. The real reason it's wrong for individuals to "strike back" at systems attacking them is because that's not how things work in a civilized society.

    When you go out crime-fighting on the Internet, are you sure you're hitting back at the right target? I suggest that you shouldn't be so confident in your ability to know that you're going after the right people, without any knowledge of their circumstances and the damage you'll cause to them by tampering with their systems.

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