The ‘Worm’ That Could Bring Down The Internet: NPR

On September 27th, 2011, NPR reported on how the massive computer worm called Conficker has been spreading throughout the world.  According to writer Mark Bowden, Conficker penetrates the core of a computer's operating system and turns control of the computer over to a remote operator.  Conficker takes all of these infected computers and networks them in what is known as a botnet.  Bowden went on to say that the Conficker botnet could take over computer networks that control banking, telephones, security systems, air traffic control and even the Internet itself.

Bowden discusses how Conficker was discovered, how it works, and the ongoing battle to bring it down in his new book, Worm: The First Digital World War.  Bowden described how Conficker could launch a denial of service attack so large that it would not only overwhelm its target, but also the root servers of the Internet itself.  Bowen also noted that Pentagon officials are especially wary of Conficker because the botnet could be used as a weapon: "It's the equivalent of shutting down the train system during the Civil War, where the Union troops and the Confederate troops used trains to shuttle arms and ammunition and supplies all over their area of control.  If you could shut their trains down, you cripple their ability to function. Similarly, you could do that today by taking down the Internet."

Worm

 

The discovery of Conficker prompted a group of security experts to get together and stop the worm; the group called themselves the Conficker Working Group.  The Conficker Working Group has since realized that the creator of Conficker had little interest in taking down the Internet or using its bot to create mass destruction.  However, Bowden stressed caution; "at any moment, Conficker could do something really threatening.  [People fighting the bot] are trying to figure it out still. And every new day, as the worm makes its contacts, they generate long lists of computers that are infected — which still include big networks within the FBI, within the Pentagon, within large corporations."

The source article can be found here.

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Professor William Snyder

Professor William C. Snyderis a member of the faculty of the Institute for National Security and Counter-terrorism at Syracuse University after fifteen years with the United States Department of Justice.

Ryan D. White

Ryan D. WhiteRyan is currently a third year law student at Syracuse University College of Law, and is also pursuing a Master of Public Administration degree from Syracuse’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Ryan spent time with Homeland Security Investigations while pursuing his undergraduate degree at Wesleyan University, and spent his first summer of law school as clerk for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of New York. He is a member of Syracuse Law Review, the Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis, and participates in the Veteran’s Legal Clinic. Full biography

Shelby E. Mann

Ryan D. WhiteShelby is a second year law student at the Syracuse University College of Law. During her final year at the University of Missouri, she served as a full-time news producer for ABC 17 News. Shelby spent her first summer of law school at the Shelby County District Attorney General's Office in Memphis, Tenn., in the Public Corruption and Economic Crimes Unit. She is a member of Syracuse Law Review, the Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis, and the senior editor for the Syrian Accountability Project. Full biography

Christopher w. FolkChristopher W. Folk

is a 2017 graduate of SU College of Law. A non-traditional student, Christopher returned to academia after spending nearly twenty years in the high tech industry. Christopher served in the Marine Corps, graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. In Applied Economics and Business Management, attended Northeastern University’s High-Tech MBA Program and received a M.S. In Computer Information Systems. Christopher previously worked in Software Engineering. Christopher is currently serving his second term as Town Justice for the Town of Waterloo. Christopher externed with a Cybersecurity firm in the Washington, D.C. area between his first and second year at SU College of Law. Full biography

Anna Maria Castillo

is 2016 graduate of Syracuse College of Law. She also holds a Master of Arts in International Relations from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. She has interned at a London-based think-tank that specializes in transnational terrorism and global security and at the legal department of a defense contractor. She served as an executive editor in the Syracuse Law Review. Full biography

Jennifer A. CamilloJennifer A. Camillo

is a 2015 graduate of Syracuse College of Law and is a prosecutor. She has served as a law clerk in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York and the Cayuga County District Attorney’s Office and as an extern in the Oneida County District Attorney’s Office. She was a member of the Syracuse National Trial Team and was awarded the Tiffany Cup by the New York Bar Association for her trial advocacy achievements.

Tara J. PistoreseTara J. Pistorese

holds Juris Doctor and Masters of Public Administration degrees from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and its College of Law. She wrote for this blog when a student. She is now a member of the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's Corps.

Benjamin Zaiser

is both a scholar and a Federal Agent of the Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany. (Opinions expressed here are his own and not any part of official duty.) Full biography

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