back to article 21st century malware found in Jane Austen's 19th century prose

Cisco's 2015 Midyear Security Report has revealed that at least one group of malware-spreading scum has a literary bent. The report found one group of criminals who were hosting a webpage designed to inject exploit code into unpatched browsers. Typically these landing pages have very little on them, often just random text, but …

  1. Charles Manning

    Well it makes sense

    The set of people who are Austen fans likely has a very small intersection with the set of people who are security savvy.

    A botted Austen fan is probably more useful than a botted gamer because they're less likely to detect that their machine has been compromised.

    1. John H Woods Silver badge

      Re: Well it makes sense

      Speaking as a member of that set, can I recommend it to people? Start with Northanger Abbey, though!

    2. LDS Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: Well it makes sense

      Do you mean "security savvy" are only illiterate misogynistic nerds?

    3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Well it makes sense

      What's your metric for "a very small intersection"?

      In this thread you already have John H Woods and me, and I can think of a couple other Austen & security fans off the top of my head.

      Now, had you said "Maria Edgeworth fans", you'd probably be onto something. Castle Rackrent is OK, but I believe I speak for everyone in IT security when I say it's hardly an undying classic.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune

    works in IT.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune

      But not a developer or syadmin. They would be probably the subjects of a Dickens novel, not Austen's... although Wickham was very good at social engineering - in the very meaning of "social"....

  3. Dave 126 Silver badge

    I cry foul!

    It has been said of cryptic crosswords that the setter's aim is to lose [against the puzzle solver], but to lose slowly and with humour. Since I am not brainy enough for cryptic crosswords, I take some pleasure in deciphering hyperbolic headlines, be those in The Reg or New Scientist. However, I can't parse "21st century malware found in Jane Austen's 19th century prose" in any way that agrees with the actual article.

    tl;dr I usually enjoy Reg Headlines, but this one wasn't in the spirit of the game.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I cry foul!

      " However, I can't parse "21st century malware found in Jane Austen's 19th century prose" in any way that agrees with the actual article."

      The target web page's visible content is the text of a Jane Austen novel. Hidden within that content is the means of delivering malware to a reader's PC.

      That seems to fit the title.

    2. Captain DaFt

      Re: I cry foul!

      " I can't parse "21st century malware found in Jane Austen's 19th century prose" in any way that agrees with the actual article."

      Same here. I was expecting an article about how a passage in Austen's prose triggered a reset or lockup of iPhone, Android, and/or Winphone*.

      *Or whatever the Hell Microsoft's calling it this week.

    3. JeffyPoooh
      Pint

      Re: I cry foul!

      I had assumed that, through random chance, some of Jane Austen's 19th century prose just happened to be executable, perhaps something like when the endianness assumption was reversed.

      Of course, the modern operating systems, upon noticing some data that could possibly be executed, immediately do so.

      The next vulnerability that will be revealed will be when the texture of the distant clouds in an image just happens to be represented by numbers that could be executed, and the helpful OS screams, "HEY CODE!" and instantly dives in.

    4. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: I cry foul!

      I figured they were referring to that chapter from the variant second edition of Emma where the title character briefly considers the romantic fortunes of the oddly-named character Robert'); DROP TABLE gentlemen;--. It's missing in other editions, but you can find it in the Oxford variorum.

  4. ScriptFanix
    Trollface

    Hygiene?

    "Flash is fine so long as you're doing good hygiene."

    Doesn't "good hygiene" implies NOT using Flash/SilverLight/Java? I'm not even sure opening a browser qualifies as "good hygiene" nowadays...

    1. DJO Silver badge

      Re: Hygiene?

      You cannot have both Flash & good hygiene as the first hygienic act is to delete everything from Adobe.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Hygiene?

      I'm still trying to figure out what he meant by "If you clock back..." Best I can come up with is "look/look at" for clock as in "Hey, clock this!" but that doesn't seem to quite fit the rest of his statement.

  5. JeffyPoooh
    Pint

    The 'Harvard Architecture' was a better concept as it turns out

    Harvard Architecture: Program Store separate from the Data Store.

    Since we can't trust the coder drones not to instruct the computer to execute data at every possible opportunity.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: The 'Harvard Architecture' was a better concept as it turns out

      That's why the x86 protected mode has descriptor bits to tell what a segment can be used for - but it requires proper separation from code and data - something scripting languages don't achieve - and it requires proper segment management by the OS, something most OS never cared of and simply initialize segment descriptors to allow access to everything in the process address space... even the NX bit is something of a later hack.

      1. JeffyPoooh
        Pint

        Re: The 'Harvard Architecture' was a better concept as it turns out

        "...OS never cared..."

        The poor quality of OS code is revealed by, just one clear example, the relationship of RAM size and Hibernation files.

        If your PC has 2GB of RAM, when you put it into hibernation, the resultant hibernation saved state file will be about 2GB.

        If your PC has 4GB of RAM, when you put it into hibernation, the resultant hibernatiion saved state file will be about 4GB.

        Etc.

        It's obvious that the OS has no idea which parts of memory are actually being used (something it plays a role in managing), so it has to save the entire RAM space, including many GBs of zeroes, as part of the saved state. Can't even be bothered to compress it to save time.

        It's 2015, and they still haven't figured out something as trivial as this. Pathetic!

        Am I the only person on Earth that's noticed that adding RAM to a PC makes it slower to go into and out of hibernation mode?

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: The 'Harvard Architecture' was a better concept as it turns out

      No, it really wasn't, as even a glancing familiarity with the past fifty years of computer science and software development will show.

      Capability architectures, on the other hand, were and remain a good idea.

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