Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Perimeter

10/24/2008
05:46 PM
Commentary
Commentary
Commentary
50%
50%

The Root of Online Evils

What if you could boil all of the Internet's problems down to a few original issues -- what would you do with that information? Would it even be useful? What if it might help predict future Internet-shaking issues? I was at a malware conference last week, and I heard two interesting tidbits about the origins of some of the more social issues we currently face. The first is the concept of spam. Spam as a concept is actually accredited to Montgomery Ward. That's right, you can blame them --

What if you could boil all of the Internet's problems down to a few original issues -- what would you do with that information? Would it even be useful? What if it might help predict future Internet-shaking issues? I was at a malware conference last week, and I heard two interesting tidbits about the origins of some of the more social issues we currently face.

The first is the concept of spam. Spam as a concept is actually accredited to Montgomery Ward. That's right, you can blame them -- sorta. They came up with the concept of mail-order catalogs in 1872. Those catalogs were sent not only to people who were already customers, but anyone they could get a catalog to. Back before the days of the Internet, phones and snail mail were the efficient methods of ordering.

Fast forward 100 years, and we have the Internet. Sending bulk mail is no longer costly. I can do it electronically for fractions of a penny, instead of having to pay the heavy tax placed on that privilege by the post office. The only tax spammers have is the tax of getting connectivity, much of which they can steal. Which brings us to the second issue.AOL is credited to the origins of phishing. Yup, you can blame them -- sorta. In the early days of the Internet everything was dial-up, and AOL had a near monopoly on modem pools. While they hardly owned the Internet, they certainly dominated access to it for a short time and still do in many rural areas where broadband is just a distant glimmer of hope, unless you consider the latent dish a viable solution to broadband -- and you wouldn't if you've ever had to use it. But I digress.

AOL's dialup access was metered, unlike broadband. That is, you could only use it for a certain amount of hours per day, based on whatever you had pre-purchased. Of course you could purchase more hours, but you were only allotted a set amount for your base subscription. Enter a bad guy who wants to download porn movies that were multiple megabytes in size (huge back in those days) or chat about their new favorite band, and it may take hours. Hours that they need to stay online eat into their allotted hours that they purchased. Where their own lack of funds may thwart them, their ingenuity in stealing access from others prevails. Enter the dawn of phishing for credentials.

Now, looking back on the origins of these two curses of the Internet, it's an interesting exercise to think about what future signs might lead us to the conflicts and atrocities of the future. Here you can boil it down to the need to market goods and services (greed) and the scarcity of resources. It'd be interested in seeing if there is any predictive science that may ferret out problems before we inadvertently create them.

RSnake is a red-blooded lumberjack whose rants can also be found at Ha.ckers and F*the.net. Special to Dark Reading

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 11/19/2020
New Proposed DNS Security Features Released
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  11/19/2020
How to Identify Cobalt Strike on Your Network
Zohar Buber, Security Analyst,  11/18/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win an Amazon Gift Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: A GONG is as good as a cyber attack.
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-26890
PUBLISHED: 2020-11-24
Matrix Synapse before 1.20.0 erroneously permits non-standard NaN, Infinity, and -Infinity JSON values in fields of m.room.member events, allowing remote attackers to execute a denial of service attack against the federation and common Matrix clients. If such a malformed event is accepted into the r...
CVE-2020-28348
PUBLISHED: 2020-11-24
HashiCorp Nomad and Nomad Enterprise 0.9.0 up to 0.12.7 client Docker file sandbox feature may be subverted when not explicitly disabled or when using a volume mount type. Fixed in 0.12.8, 0.11.7, and 0.10.8.
CVE-2020-15928
PUBLISHED: 2020-11-24
In Ortus TestBox 2.4.0 through 4.1.0, unvalidated query string parameters to test-browser/index.cfm allow directory traversal.
CVE-2020-15929
PUBLISHED: 2020-11-24
In Ortus TestBox 2.4.0 through 4.1.0, unvalidated query string parameters passed to system/runners/HTMLRunner.cfm allow an attacker to write an arbitrary CFM file (within the application's context) containing attacker-defined CFML tags, leading to Remote Code Execution.
CVE-2020-28991
PUBLISHED: 2020-11-24
Gitea 0.9.99 through 1.12.x before 1.12.6 does not prevent a git protocol path that specifies a TCP port number and also contains newlines (with URL encoding) in ParseRemoteAddr in modules/auth/repo_form.go.