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FLAME WORM AND NATIONAL SOFTWARE STRATEGY (2)

By NBF News
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Chris Uwaje
The scope and magnitude of these challenges, opportunities and risks calls for 'The e-Knowledge Initiative' (e-KI) are deeply challenging. The ultimate goal is to establish a 'Knowledge Commission' (KC) immediately ensuring a proactive drive for 'IT for all' by 2015.

Recognising Information and Communications Technology to be the new frontier of knowledge, and also a critical enabling tool for assimilating, processing and producing valuable and wealth-based output for all other spheres of knowledge, the National Assembly should establish a 'Knowledge Commission' (KC) as a strategic imperative to accelerate e-reasoning and the development of IT capacities and accrued benefits to the nation.

'The e-Knowledge Initiative': The aim of this national IT emergency campaign is to empower all Nigerians by delivering nationwide (state-wide and LGA-wide) computer skill literacy and in particular to special IT projects and diffuse the application and use of computers and IT in the civil service and education sector in particular and the nation in general.

When the Knowledge Commission is established by enactment of an Act in the Senate, the concept of 'Operation National e-Knowledge' shall be developed into a comprehensive strategy within the next three months.

IT State of Emergency White Paper: Meanwhile, and as a matter of utmost urgency, the Senate should declare the national ICT environment and Nigeria's e-readiness status, a state of emergency - desirous of special resource and budgetary intervention to spur the top-priority initiatives which require immediate implementation.

Back to Flame. The malware can also hide inside seemingly harmless programmes and can create 'backdoors' that enable hackers to re-enter the infected computer network at any time, Gostev said. So far, the spread of the Flame malware has been relatively small - less than 400 infections have been reported, about half of them coming from Iran, according to Kaspersky Lab.

Researchers say there does not appear to be any pattern to the organizations targeted. The malware infected computers belonging to government agencies, private companies, educational institutions and specific individuals. Many victims appear to have been targeted for their personal activities, rather than where they worked, according to researchers at the security firm, Symantec.

The malware sends the stolen data to 'command and control' servers being controlled by hackers in perhaps dozens of countries, researchers say. It can run on Microsoft Winds XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 systems, the security firm McAfee says.

According to Iran's Computer Emergency Response Team, antivirus software cannot detect the Flame malware on a victim's computer. The agency said it had created a tool to detect the malware and is sending out another tool to remove it from infected computers.

Experts say Flame is similar to Stuxnet and Duqu - two well-known malicious computer programs - because all three were based in the Middle East and targeted specific software vulnerabilities. Stuxnet is a complex computer worm that damaged Iran's nuclear centrifuges in 2009 and 2010 by causing them to spin out of control. Experts deem it to be the most sophisticated cyberweapon ever created.

The creators of Stuxnet remain unknown, though many have speculated it was designed by Israel and the United States. Duqu, which is believed to have been written by the same authors, was designed to spy on users in Middle Eastern countries by logging their keystrokes and stealing their computer files. It was intended to lay the groundwork for a cyberattack against an industrial control system, according to Symantec.

Today it is the Middle East that is being smoked out of the e-Super Highway. Tomorrow - which may be trillions of nano-seconds away - it maybe the turn of Africa/Nigeria to smell the pepper……no Hell! But there is still hope. And our only hope this century is the innovation and mastery of world-class software creativity at all levels. And indeed, there are strong indications that Nigeria will get it right this century.

CONCLUDED. Chris Uwaje is the CEO of Connect Technologies and President of Institute of Software practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON).