Thought for the day:Slammer - a prophet of doom?

Is SQL Slammer an isolated event, or a step towards the collapse of the internet? asks antivirus expert Eugene Kaspersky.

Is SQL Slammer an isolated event, or a step towards the collapse of the internet? asks antivirus expert Eugene Kaspersky.

It is essential to understand the real danger posed by Slammer. It only attacks servers, so you may feel safe if your computer does not have Microsoft SQL Server installed and you therefore believe that the worm will be unable to inflict damage.

However, the pace and scale at which Slammer spread and the consequence of exponential rises in internet traffic could lead to an internet outage. So, all of us are, at least indirectly, made to suffer.

The Slammer attack demonstrates the general vulnerability of the internet. It graphically demonstrates one of the weakest points through which it is possible to halt network operation, namely, vulnerabilities in security systems in which viruses can exploit freely to penetrate computers. It would be hard to find a better example of this danger than the effects of Slammer.

This provokes the question of whether or not Slammer was created to "test the water" of the internet to detect weak spots, only to follow up with a full-scale attack.

We are far from thoughts of conspiracy, however. Most probably this is just normal cyber-hooliganism. Hooliganism in terms of approach, but when considering results, it is indeed terrorism. Without urgent preventive measures this situation might soon become out of control and even cause us to question the internet's existence.

You can endlessly patch holes in a security system, but this won't prevent further attacks. Today we are fixing consequences rather than the cause. It is tempting for some to abuse the network when they are sure they can't be tracked.

To reform the internet and fix this problem by introducing personal IDs appears to be almost impossible. This process is hobbled by extremely complex political and economic problems at an international level.

The only realistic solution would be for large multinational corporations - the "locomotives" of the modern economy - to develop a parallel network where they concentrate all their business communications and limit this network's exposure to the internet.

Doing this will allow the processing of new standards to happen faster and far less painfully.

What do you think?
Is the internet in danger? Tell us in an e-mail >> reserves the right to edit and publish answers on the Web site. Please state if your answer is not for publication.

Eugene Kaspersky is head of antivirus research at international IT security specialists Kaspersky Lab , of which he was a founder

Read more on Antivirus, firewall and IDS products