Pilot release

    The company BitDefender welcomes inhabitants "Habrahabr"!

    Starting today, we begin publishing a series of articles for Russian readers - about antivirus protection and information security in general. Our target audience is heads of organizations, system administrators, programmers, home users, and professionals in related fields who are interested in information security issues.

    We will consider current issues of the theory and give practical recommendations for solving common computer problems. We will talk about typical mistakes, as a result of which managers lose control over their information and, therefore, over their business. We will pay serious attention to rarely used, but extremely effective anti-virus protection methods. Speaking about computers and programs, we will not forget about the accompanying legal and economic issues that are important for almost every organization. We will talk about the key role of information technology specialists in the success of a modern company. We will try to summarize all the experience gained in the field of information security, and list the most important of the problems in this area that have not yet been solved by anyone and are waiting for their heroes.

    We invite everyone who shares the BitDefender ideology to discussion: information is one of the most important values ​​of our civilization, and the near future of people depends on the quality and safety of information.

    You have to start from afar. Computers are not what they seem to most people :) Information technology, unfortunately, is developing in the wrong direction.

    Background, the possibility of which science does not exclude

    About 100 years ago, the Earth began to radiate meaningful radio signals into space. This could not fail to attract the attention of the Serykh intelligence, namely, its astrobiological department, which is responsible for preventing the development of aggressive bioforms on native planets.

    Alas, it was such a bioform that developed on Earth at an alarming rate, regularly conducting all-planet wars to develop military technology and dreaming of conquering space. When it became clear that the earthlings had mastered the energy of nuclear decay and were close to the discovery of vacuum energy, an emergency meeting of the Department of Galactic Biology of the Council of Elders of the Gray Race was convened.

    “We are afraid that they will not destroy themselves and will go out into outer space with weapons,” the First Elder told the audience. “And we cannot do anything with them because of this new law on the protection of primitive organisms!”

    “Don’t worry about deep space: we recruited a good agent on the planet in advance who introduced the idea of ​​the impossibility of superluminal speeds into the minds of natives,” said a spokesman for intelligence. “But our biocontrol cordon on the far side of the moon is really in danger.” Having discovered the cordon, earthlings will become even more aggressive.

    “We need to distract them with something,” one of the elders suggested. “Perhaps it makes sense to throw them some toy that completely absorbs their miserable minds and forces them to act in the direction we want.”

    “The best toy for our purpose is information technology,” said the First Elder.

    - Are you sure? - surprised the second elder. - If this bioform gets at its disposal information technologies, then when applied correctly it will not only not self-destruct, but, on the contrary, will become stronger.

    “Exactly, that only with the right application,” the First Elder explained. - And earthlings are incapable of this. It is enough to captivate them with a bright toy, and they will raise it into a cult of the absolute, tying to it their entire economy and all their military forces. And that means their own lives. We will give them an idea of ​​what a computer is, and in a couple of generations they themselves will make a huge amount of computers - but primitive and terribly vulnerable. Earthlings will put their entire planet into total dependence on them - energy, transport, trade, industry, medicine, education, and government. Almost certainly they would foolishly connect all the computers into one network, after which they would only have to run a virus there - and the planet would immediately return to its pristine state.

    - Great idea! - the representative of intelligence was delighted. - By the way, according to our data, they have a bisexual reproduction system. With a competent approach, we can also make it dependent on vulnerable computers. My Greeks are recruiting agents of influence on this planet. They will make it so that earthlings have forgotten how to create pairs for reproduction differently than through their planetary computer network. The failure of this network will mean not only the destruction of the economy of earthlings, but also the simultaneous cessation of their biological reproduction.

    - And how do we introduce the virus? Someone asked. - The Law on the Protection of Primitive Organisms prohibits direct intervention.

    “As an astrobiologist specializing in such life forms, I assure you: the natives are so stupid that we don’t have to do this,” said the intelligence spokesman. - They themselves will create destructive viruses and themselves will introduce them into their planetary network. Just in time for being completely dependent on her. They like to destroy the life support systems of their race. The introduction of viruses into their own network will be a continuation of their thousand-year-old logic of suicide wars, but at a fatal level.

    “So the decision has been made,” the First Elder summed up. - We will give them information technology. Everything that they already have — cold steel, chemical, biological, and nuclear — they can control relatively easily. And the processes taking place in the bowels of a network of billions of computers, they will not be able to control. Let every earthling have a computer in his pocket, and even without him it would be impossible even to step a step! Let no one be able to buy and sell anything without computers! Let the natives transfer to computers all their finances, transactions, legal relations, the media! Let computers control earthlings' power plants, their nuclear weapons and aircraft! Let computers make decisions on exchanges, calculate the results of state elections and participate in military operations! And let it all be prone to viruses! Send an order to the lunar cordon of biocontrol: immediately imitate the crash of a plate near the military training ground of the most powerful state of this planet.

    An intelligence spokesman unfolded the map of the United States on a full screen, turned on the connection with the cordon and transmitted the order of the First.

    “Here, in Roswell.” Today. There should not be anything valuable on board: leave them to study only old solid-state chips on electrons, displays on liquid crystals and other nonsense that is needed for our project. Check that the chips do not have any information on how to write software correctly. Earthlings should not have the slightest idea about the principles of information security! To make it more believable, make subatomic copies of the two employees of the cordon and place them on board under the guise of dead pilots. Do not forget to wipe the brains of biocopies with zeros, and then with random numbers. Make sure that the plate is not handed over to the locals for scrap: it should fall into the hands of the military as soon as possible. Take action.

    * * *

    Jokes aside :) Regardless of whether living beings have formed themselves of atoms, whether they are settled on Earth by aliens or created by God, they do not know how to make mistakes.

    Alchemists for a long time and unsuccessfully cooked gold. Surgeons slaughtered patients, unaware of germs and asepsis. The peoples overthrew some tyrants, and then applauded others. One of the peaks of mass belief in the final victory of humanism and progress came at the beginning of the 20th century - just before the 1st World War. At one time, the atomic bomb was in fashion and test explosions gathered numerous spectators. People regularly do stupid things in all areas of their work.

    To learn how to protect information, you need to understand that the history of computer technology was no exception. We must realize that over the course of seven decades of computer engineering, many incorrect and irreversible decisions have been made - and some of them today have to pay dearly. It is necessary to develop a critical view of many concepts and stereotypes that have historically developed in the field of information security. Professionals who are well versed in the topic know that by 2011 this area was in a deep crisis. There are more insoluble problems than successes. Investments in security are increasingly ineffective - this is no secret to system integrators. Recently, the total losses of the world economy from constant troubles with computers have become comparable with the damage from hostilities.

    The fact is that while creating the foundation of the current computer industry — architectures, microcircuits, interfaces, low-level programming languages, operating systems — specialists did not notice the virus danger for decades, did not take it into account, or did not take it seriously. Later, they noticed, but did not understand the essence of the threat and did not believe in its global nature. And when, at last, they understood and believed - it was already too late. At the beginning of the 21st century, it turned out that the very computers and computer networks that are used everywhere, forming the basis of the post-industrial economy of the Earth, are doomed to remain chronically infected - due to mistakes of the past, due to unsuccessful design features and architectural decisions.

    But most people - including many programmers, analysts, system administrators, CIOs - still do not see a systemic crisis in the industry, completely trust computers of an established design and judge their functionality mainly by case design and user interface :) States vied announcing a transfer to system blocks and smart cards of various life support systems - from financial mechanisms to interdepartmental workflow. Computers confidently billing people. Judicial and political decisions are made based on data generated by computers. This data now determines property rights and the guilt of citizens in “cybercrimes”. Units and zeros formed by machines, people sincerely consider legally significant. Cars are usually trusted, and people get used to acting on their instructions.

    In fact, the state of information technology is rather damp. It resembles the state of surgery in the mid-19th century, and even with opposite trends. Until now, no one on Earth has learned to write programs without errors. They tried for a long time - but then they abandoned this idea. Upon closer inspection of the shining world of "high technology" it reveals a creepy and rapidly growing pile of countless incompatible languages, protocols, standards; bugs, patches, vulnerabilities, exploits, bookmarks, viruses, botnets, denial of service, attacks, crashes, freezes, legal risks, lawsuits, scandals, dirt, fraud and other complex problems. Everything connected with the Network is vulnerable. As in ancient times, the alchemist knew that something would surely explode in his hands, so today every office employee knows

    People inadvertently combined a billion system units into a hypercomputer - the Internet. This complex system, infected by tens of millions of viruses, is weak and unstable. As the expansion and complexity of its behavior in the conditions of chronic infection becomes less predictable. And modern viruses are no longer primitive machines, devoid of reason. The global network gives people the opportunity to manage their virtual creations, coordinating their actions in real time and endowing them with intelligence. Viruses today are run by talented professionals and serious organizations. They cannot but show interest in a gigantic and weakly controlled system in which the key financial and information flows of the planet are concentrated.

    Too much is at stake. The simplest executable file tossed by competitors can ruin the owner of a small company. A more sophisticated, well-thought-out program can hit big businesses and the stock market: the recent paralysis of one of Sony's businesses, accompanied by scandal and a drop in stocks, is a good lesson for any other company. A large botnet is quite capable of provoking a new Great Depression - and so that almost no one will notice its true causes.

    All major economies — Europe, the USA, China, and Japan — became critically dependent on computers. No organization today can feel secure. Among the objects of successful attacks of recent months were even the most respectable Lockheed Martin, Citigroup and the International Monetary Fund. By the way, we are talking only about the identified attacks - and how many more corporate systems are infected and prepared for the “X-hour”? Nobody knows that. By June 2011, the problem reached the level of big international politics and is now recognized as "very serious" even in public statements by the Pentagon head and US authorities. The concept of launching combat missiles in response to the launch of combat computer programs is being discussed more and more - one country against another. While some people are diligently transferring their life support systems to computers, other people,

    On the one hand, this constant and rapidly growing danger creates a huge market and stable demand for antivirus companies: in the global economy, no business can exist without antiviruses. BitDefender products protect more than 41 million computers of our customers around the world - on the platforms Windows, Linux, FreeBSD, Mac OS. And all together antiviruses, based on the licensed BitDefender engine and produced under different brands in different countries, use about 390 million people.

    On the other hand, we do not intend to rest on our laurels. We understand that even the joint efforts of all the antivirus companies of the planet in the current situation are insufficient. They provide only fragile parity in an endless positional war against computer infections, suppressing their bulk and keeping the Internet from immediately slipping into chaos - but nothing more. The key to the transition from a positional war to a complete and final victory is the change of established concepts and stereotypes in the field of information security. Without changes in public consciousness, you can fight viruses endlessly - and endlessly new ones will appear, like self-reproducing bots in an arcade game. The state of computer systems as a whole will only worsen until a recession in the economy reaches a fatal level, after which no antivirus will be needed by the majority of the population. We strive to prevent such a development of events.

    By publications on Habrahabr we want to help everyone who values ​​their information and is ready to make efforts to put their computer infrastructure in order, getting rid of many troubles once and for all. In 2011, this is too late, it is difficult, but with the right approach, it is still possible. The most important thing for a radical solution to the problem is to understand its essence and understand its causes. Therefore, we look at the history of viruses almost from the very beginning of the computer era - from 1944.

    * * *

    Read in the next issue:
    Programs, data and their owners. About computer architectures - technical and social.

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