Concept confirmed

The company where this pilot fish works decides to install Internet content-control software at one office -- and users aren't happy about it.

"The users have been quite resistant to the web filtering, even though miscategorizations and improperly blocked sites have been relatively infrequent," says fish.

So fish isn't surprised when he gets a terse user request to whitelist a website that the content filter is blocking. It's a law firm's site, and the software has it flagged for malware.

Fish does a quick check on other malware databases, and the site is flagged on some of them, too. Suspicious, fish responds to the user that he'll have to investigate further before whitelisting the site.

Minutes later, fish gets an e-mail from his boss -- cc:'d to his boss's boss -- saying that it's very important to open up access to this site immediately.

A few minutes after that, fish's boss's boss sends fish an e-mail asking why a law firm's website has been blocked. Fish replies with a long explanation about malware exploits and compromised websites, and reiterates that he has contacted the web-filter vendor for verification.

Fish figures that's the end of the exchange for the moment. But less than five minutes later, he gets another e-mail from his boss's boss -- and this time it's cc:'d to everyone involved.

It begins, "I went to that website, and I got a virus."

"Turns out he was working at another location this week, which didn't have content-filtering software," fish says.

"He clicked the link in the original e-mail and it immediately dropped a drive-by Trojan on his machine, which caused such a flurry of network activity that the network admins at that location came running and told him they had to take his PC off the network.

"His final words were, 'This is a pretty good proof of concept.'"

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Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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