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May 2002

Predicting the future of malware and tomorrow's malicious code

I may seem to be ignoring Daniel Delbert McCracken's advice not to make predictions about computing that can be checked in my lifetime. I'm not as crazy as all that: I haven't completely migrated from Moore's Law to Old Moore's Almanac. However, based on today's trends, I'll venture some educated (if somewhat reluctant) guesses about the immediate future of malicious code. Authors of malware generally aren't the moody, inscrutable genies or geniuses of popular imagination, and they have to work with the same application, OS and hardware limitations that we do. Technical details change. Epidemiological patterns change. But the broad issues remain constant. Recently, AV vendors have made a big deal out of "blended" or "convergent" threats. In the wake of Code Red and Nimda, blended threats remain everybody's pick as the most likely malware threat for the coming year. However, as bad as these were, it should be noted that the author of Code Red didn't invent the IIS exploit used in the attack. And for everyone's talk about Nimda ...

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