Is Conficker the start of the biggest botnet in history?

Conficker worm infected machines may comprise one of the biggest networks of robot computers (botnets) in Internet history if security experts’ fears are proved correct. From midnight on 1 April, the Conficker program will start scanning thousands of websites for a new set of instructions telling it what to do next.

Conficker – also known among security experts as “Downadup” was first discovered in November last year, being sold as part of a kit by a Chinese hacker. Since then, two variants have been spotted in the wild as the virus has gone on to infect more than 10m PCs.

Microsoft has offered a bounty of $250,000 (£176,000) for the identity of Conficker’s creator, who currently remains unknown. Usual methods of unpacking the virus code to examine its workings have been thwarted because the authors have encrypted it, using algorithms that render it almost uncrackable.

For more aspects of this story see Conficker virus – deadly threat or April Fool’s joke

Karalon Technology Traffic IQ Pro

The other day I passed a pleasant few minutes chatting on the phone to a nice guy called Dominic, from Karalon Technology.

Karalon Technology are the Vendors of a product called Traffic IQ Pro which is used by many large companies and organisations such as Cisco Systems, Juniper Networks, Singapore Government, Microsoft, HP, AT&T, BT, US Army and many more global organisations. Situated in London, they are the market leaders of industry approved solutions for auditing and testing the recognition and response capabilities of network based corporate security defences (Firewalls/IPS/IDS- Devices /UTM’s and Routers).

This software not only tests security infrastructure to make sure that bad traffic cannot get in or out, but also tests to make sure that legitimate production traffic can enter and exit the network all in a safe, accurate, repeatable and easy to use testing platform.

If you want to find out more about this technology click here for Karalon and Traffic IQ Pro. Fully functional applications are available to download free from Karalon Downloads. They also have a movie
which you can click here to view.

Parliamentary computers infected by Conficker worm

The House of Commons internal computer network has been infected by the “Conficker” worm and has had to ban its users from attaching outside storage, such as USB memory sticks, in case it gets reinfected. An estimated 10 million PCs worldwide have also been infected and experts fear next week will see problems worsen. For more on this story, see the article House of Commons network hit by Conficker computer worm from

If your computer is infected with this worm, you may not experience any symptoms, or you may experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Account lockout policies are being tripped.
  • Automatic Updates, Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS), Windows Defender, and Error Reporting Services are disabled.
  • Domain controllers respond slowly to client requests.
  • The network is congested.
  • Various security-related Web sites cannot be accessed.

For more information about Win32/Conficker.b, visit the following Microsoft Malware Protection Center Web page

Network managers can also stop Conficker from spreading by using Group Policy, and creating a policy that applies to all computers in a specific organizational unit (OU), site, or domain in your environment. For more details on this process see Microsoft Help and Support Article ID 962007

Customising WordPress Using Templates

In order to customize a WordPress theme, you may need to decide which template file needs editing in order to provide a conditional display. Say you want to have a link to you favorite book retailers which only appears on your books page, then you may need to build a custom template for that page.

WordPress uses the Query String, the information contained within each link on your web site, to decide which template or set of templates will be used to display the page. If your visitor clicks on a link to a category page like, then WordPress looks for a template file that matches the category’s ID in the directory for the current theme. If it is missing, WordPress next looks for a generic category template file, category.php. Failing that archive.php and if that is missing the main theme template file, index.php.

In order to find out the category ID number go to Manage Categories and hover your mouse over your target category and the ID will show up in the link. Alternatively if you are editing a category, the ID will be displayed at the end of the url.

You then create your custom page with the name category-2.php in the case of After that, when you display Books the custom page will display. Easy!

For more detail on the use of templates see Codex WordPress Template Hierarchy

Customising WordPress Using Page Templates

If you are considering customising WordPress, you may be interested to know that it can be configured to use custom Page Templates for different Pages. This means that several or all pages could have their own unique Page Templates and so appear completely different.

If you want to create a custom page template called MyTemplate, create a file called mytemplate.php. At the top of the file, put the following:
Template Name: MyTemplate

Copy the content of another template (perhaps page.php or index.php) after the above five lines of code then you will only have to alter the HTML and PHP code, instead of creating it all from scratch. MyTemplate will now be available as a choice when you create or edit a new page. You can go ahead and customise this new template further without if affecting your default pages.

To select a template, there must be at least one custom Page Template available in the active theme. Once there is, toward the bottom of the Write Page administration panel (or on the sidebar, depending on which version of WordPress you are using) you will see there is a drop-down labeled Page Template. From there you can select which Template will be used when displaying this particular Page, and MyTemplate should now appear.

See Codex WordPress Creating your own Page Templates to find out how to create a custom Page Template.

NOMS Organization Ill-conceived, Incoherent and Incompetent

The House of Commons Hansard Debates for 17 Mar 2009, pt 0003, lists a question from David Taylor, Lab/Co-op for North-West Leicestershire, to the The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice, Mr David Hanson.

The question was “Last week’s National Audit Office report on C-NOMIS excoriated senior NOMS management for an information and communications technology project whose lifetime costs have tripled to £700 million in just three years. I exculpate the Minister, who is a very able man of great integrity, but what should be done about the lamentable failures of that ill-conceived, incoherent and incompetent organization? Perhaps the guilty parties in EDS, Syscon and NOMS could be locked up for egregious negligence as a pilot group in one of the Minister’s fabled Titan prisons — if there is one big enough.”

Einstein is reported to have said “the definition of insanity is repeating the same actions over and over, and expecting a different outcome”. Need we say more?

For the minister’s response see National Offender Management Service in Hansard

Aloha From Maui and the Pink Biker Chic

While off last week on a working trip to the beautiful island of Maui, in the State of Hawaii (well someone has to do the difficult jobs!) we bumped into Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez, a retired US Air Force veteran of 23 years. Adventurous, edgy and refined, Eldonna is affectionately known as the “Pink Biker Chic.”

Eldonna is a Harley riding bad biker chic, speaker, trainer, author, Girlie Girl who drives a GMC truck, works out, does yoga, loves clothes, shoes and anything PINK! That stuff you can get off her website – what her site does not necessarily tell you is that she is also a very impressive and inspiring person when you meet her face to face.

She trains & coaches women in male dominated environments to eliminate self doubt and be the girlie girl in charge of their lives. She helps teens create better choices and amplify self esteem. Wow! What a Résumé!

We are currently negotiating a full article on Eldonna, so watch this space! In the mean time, if you want to visit her website now click on Pink Biker Chic

NAO slams IT project’s rising costs

The National Audit Office has slammed plans for a multi-million pound central database of offenders that failed because of poor management and a lack of budget control. The spending watchdog said the abandoned IT project’s rising costs and delays could have been avoided if basic management rules had been followed.

Edward Leigh MP, chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, described C-NOMIS as a “spectacular failure” and commented “What they delivered was a master class in sloppy project management.”

Harry Fletcher, assistant general secretary of probation officers union Napo, said the programme had been “a scandalous misuse of taxpayers’ money”.

For more information on this report see BBC News