Cybernaut 

Quickie viruses have companies worried

Over the years computer viruses have become almost routine, part of the cost of doing business on the Web. Viruses were released, they spread, they hit the critical mass point where warnings were issued, and computers downloaded software and security patches to keep their data safe. If you were one of the unlucky users to get hit, you paid a little money, reformatted your network, rebuilt your data stream from your backups and went on with life.

Two new viruses have threatened the status quo, which already sucked for companies who have had to hire in-house security staff and shell out for the latest hardware and software just to stay on top of the security situation.

The worms are Zotob and Ircbot, which according to Internet security centre CERT.org, were created in just seven days – half to one-quarter as long as long as it takes companies to test and release software patches.

By way of comparison, hacker took six months or more to create viruses just a few years ago, while some worms last year took about 15 days.

Part of the reason for the faster turnaround time is the fact that most hackers are modifying existing worms rather than writing their own code from scratch, while at the same time the practice of finding security holes has been fine-tuned to an exact art.

While Zotob and Ircbot are not that dangerous in themselves, the speed at which they were written and release has some worrying that hackers are winning the battle.

Meanwhile, a survey by London’s Sophos Labs of 1,000 businesses found that 35 per cent blame Microsoft for the latest web attacks, while 45 per cent blamed the hackers, and 20 per cent blamed systems administrators. In other words, more than one in three respondents blamed software gaps and flaws for viruses rather than the people who write the viruses themselves.

A practical use for pee

"–So anyway, I said Johnny, if you want to grow bigger cabbages… hold on, you’re breaking up… one second (zzzippp… tinkle, tinkle, tinkle ‘ahhh’… zzzippp)… okay I’m back, where was I?"

According to scientists in Singapore, human urine is a lot more useful than we think. While trying to come up with a credit card-thin battery for experimental biochip testing devices, which check urine for diseases like diabetes, scientists realized that the answer might lie within the pee itself.

They designed a disposable battery on a chip, which is activated by our urine through a chemical reaction. One drop of ion-rich pee into a solution of copper chloride, between two strips of magnesium and copper, produced a charge of about 1.5 volts for about 90 minutes.

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