Lavasoft News - September 2007

Meet Joseph Wells – the Newest Member of the Lavasoft Team

Lavasoft is pleased to announce that a leading innovator in the security industry, Joseph Wells, has joined the company’s management team as chief technology officer.
Wells is well-known for his extensive career in anti-Trojan and anti-virus solutions as well as his more recent work within anti-spyware and emerging security threats.
Along with his widely recognized work in the security software field, Wells has authored over 60 technical articles and scientific papers. He is renowned as the founder of WildList Organization International, a global cooperative identifying and reporting the latest virus threats.
Wells may be busy with plans for his new endeavor at Lavasoft, but Lavasoft News had the opportunity to ask him a few questions and to find out where his journey in the security industry has led him during the past 20 years.
Stay tuned for a more in-depth look at Wells’ insight on the security industry in upcoming issues of LN!

How did you become interested in the research and development of security software?

Though I had experience in programming, reverse engineering, and even assembly language programming on other platforms beginning in 1983, my career really started in 1987. Last year, I was going through a box of old papers and found the receipt for my first DOS computer, which I purchased, and started my first research company: Wells Research Information Services. The date on that receipt is August 7, 1987. That was when I began developing security programs.

What are the most significant changes you have seen in the security industry? In terms of sophistication and prevalence, how would you describe the types of malware and spyware threats that we see today?

Back in 1987, I was into online research based on systems such as Dialog and NewsNet, but also spent a lot of time on BBS’s. It was on the local BBS that I first found out about the Dirty Dozen; a list of Trojan Horse programs, which actually numbered more than twelve. So I developed my first heuristic Trojan detector.  Though viruses existed as early as 1986, it wasn’t until August of 1989 that I received and disassembled my first virus (Jerusalem.1808.A).

That was then. What about now?

As you know, I was recently interviewing with different companies.

As it turns out, by an extremely unlikely coincidence, I received an offer from Lavasoft and accepted it by e-mail on August 7, 2007. Yes. That’s right. I accepted this position of CTO with Lavasoft exactly 20 years to the day after I started my first research company!

Then, yesterday I was having a discussion with a friend who works for Kaspersky Labs. What were we discussing? The current problem with Trojan Horse programs.

I am reminded of the saying: “The more things change, the more they remain insane.”

So to answer the question, the most significant changes I have seen involve the speed, magnitude, diversity and complexity of the nature of this evolving threat.

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Lavasoft Privacy Toolbox
The risk associated with using the Internet, like spam, viruses, spyware and phishing, remains high, according to Consumer Reports. In the first half of 2007, spyware infections prompted 850,000 U.S. households to replace their computers, according to a recent survey. One out of every 11 surveyed had a major, often costly problem due to spyware. The economic fallout per incident was averaged at $100 (U.S.), with damage totaling $1.7 billion.

Source: Consumer Reports, State of the Net 2007
Term of the Month
A pump and dump scam is a spam technique that uses misleading messages to create hype around targeted stock – usually “penny stocks” that sell for less than $1 U.S. per share. Spammers acquire the stock before sending their spam, and then “dump” their shares after share prices have inflated. The result: investors are fooled into losing money, while the spammers make off with a profit. Read more about recent spam trends in our “Spam Surge” article.

Tech Tips
Every time you surf the Net, your browser keeps track of all of your online steps. With Ad-Aware 2007, we’ve given you an easy solution to remove all traces of your Internet browsing from your system, keeping spyware from documenting surf patterns and targeting you with adware and spyware. TrackSweep, one of the new privacy features in Ad-Aware 2007, gives you the option to clean your cache, cookies, history, last typed URLs, and browser tabs from Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Opera, in one clean sweep! To use TrackSweep, from the “Tools & Plug-Ins” tab in Ad-Aware 2007’s user interface, select “TrackSweep” and then choose the items you want cleaned. TrackSweep is a feature in Ad-Aware 2007 Free, Plus and Pro.
Helpful Homepage
The Anti-Phishing Working Group is an organization committed to wiping out online scams by focusing on eliminating fraud and identity theft that results from phishing, pharming, and e-mail spoofing. Visit its website to report phishing attempts, pharming sites, and crimeware, or browse the informative resources section to brush up on the latest threats.
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