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Shock and Awe

Human tragedy casts any threat alert in a much different light

11:25 AM -- The real world pierces this bubble of IT security we inhabit in shocking ways sometimes.

I was on the phone Tuesday morning with MicroWorld Technologies' U.S. office, researching a new worm the company had discovered. (See New Windows Worm on the Loose.)

Agnelo Fernandes, technical head of MicroWorld there, had been patiently answering my questions about the inner workings of the worm but explained he couldn't field all of them. He had been unable that morning to reach the company's researchers in India who first detected the worm: Explosions were rocking Mumbai, he said, where the company's headquarters and labs are located. Phone service in the region was interrupted, and many of his emails had gone unanswered in the wake of bomb attacks that hit commuter trains there.

A new Windows worm threat clearly seemed insignificant. People were in serious physical danger and here we were, talking about a malware threat to an operating system. Fernandes promised he'd keep trying to reach the MicroWorld researchers to get the answers I needed for my story by my deadline. A little guiltily, I awaited the worm details while he frantically resumed trying to contact his co-workers.

Later it hit me. As unimportant as it had seemed for him to chase down my query while the fate of his colleagues in India was unknown, it may have actually been a way for Fernandes to help them. He was carrying on MicroWorld's IT security business.

Fernandes indeed took care of business. In the end, he was able to reach one of the researchers by email. (I was more relieved about that than receiving the additional worm info.) He also confirmed that most of MicroWorld's employees were forced to return to their offices after attempting to evacuate the area because the roads were jammed and public transportation had come to a standstill. Last I heard, all of MicroWorld's employees there were safe.

By the way, if anyone still cares, as of this writing the risk of a Win32.Detnat.a worm attack remains relatively low.

— Kelly Jackson Higgins, Senior Editor, Dark Reading

  • MicroWorld Technologies Inc.

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