60 Minutes to cover Conficker, cyber-crime

It's always a little scary when the mainstream media covers technology -- especially computer security -- but 60 Minutes' Leslie Stahl is going to take on Conficker and, apparently, Russian cyber-crime, in this Sunday's episode of the popular TV newsmagazine.

Security experts already say that Conficker's upcoming April 1 trigger date has been overhyped (there have been several trigger dates in the past; none has destroyed teh internets), but the 60 Minutes report could lead to a lot of questions from nervous CEOs.

On Friday, researchers from SecureWorks and Panda Security went on the record saying that the sky is probably not falling down.

What will the 60 minutes report say? Here's a taste:

Conficker "could be triggered, maybe on April 1st... but no one knows whether on April 1st they'll just issue an instruction that says 'Just continue sitting there' or  whether it will start stealing our money or creating a spam attack," Stahl said  [cq] in a preview interview ahead of the show. "The truth is nobody knows what it's doing there."

I don't know if this report will help or hurt things on the Conficker front, but it could do a lot of good, educating the public on another important issue: the importance of getting some countries to cooperate in actually prosecuting cyber criminals.

Says Stahl:

"What we found in doing this story is that in Russia for instance, the authorities rarely go after these hackers who in some cases are actually seen as heroes in their local communities because they see stealing from the rich Americans, believe it or not, as an act of patriotism"

If millions of Americans get this message, and put pressure on Congress to make cybercrime-fighting cooperation more of an international priority,  that's a good thing.

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Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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