Sunday, November 5

Antiphishing fighters take on malware

Crack down on Malware by PIRT

Volunteers will publish reports on malicious software identified by users and share findings with authorities and security companies. The volunteers behind the Phishing Incident Reporting and Termination Squad (PIRT) have started a new project to crack down on malware.

Called the Malware Incident Reporting and Termination Squad (MIRT), the effort was launched earlier this week, according to Paul Laudanski, owner of Computer Cops LLC and the leader of the project.

MIRT works in much the same way as PIRT, an antiphishing project launched in March of this year. It invites users to submit samples of potentially malicious code to a database of "unknown files," which are then analyzed and reverse-engineered by MIRT's team of volunteers. MIRT then will publish reports on the malicious software and make its findings known to authorities and security companies, Laudanski said.

This same approach has worked pretty well for PIRT. To date, PIRT has received 80,000 submissions from volunteers, and it has handed the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation details on about 300 e-mail "drop accounts" where information was being delivered after successful phishing attacks.

Laudanski believes that MIRT's volunteer approach will allow the project to pick up information that the big antivirus companies may be missing. "There are a lot of places that we can tap into that give us a grassroots look at the malware that the antivirus vendors don't get," he said.

There is no shortage of malicious software to be scrutinized. Symantec Corp. said recently that it counted 6,784 new worms and viruses in the first six months of 2006.

by Robert McMillan, IDG News Service

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