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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 29th Aug 2018

Warren Buffett is not tweeting inspirational quotes. But fake Warren Buffet is, and you may have seen his advice this week.

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An account impersonating the 87-year-old American investor shot to social media fame on Saturday when it bagged almost 300,000 likes for its debut tweet.

Twitter post by @warrenbuffet99: Advice for the all the young people 1 read and write more2 stay healthy and fit3 networking is about giving 4 practice public speaking5 stay teachable6 find a mentor 7 keep in touch with friends8 you are not your job9 know when to leave10 don?t spend what you don?t haveImage Copyright @warrenbuffet99@WARRENBUFFET99

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Since then it has amassed close to two million likes for its personal, motivational, and inoffensive sound-bites.

The real Warren Buffett, CEO of conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway, does have an account but he hasn't tweeted since 2016.

The @WarrenBuffet99 account has telltale signs of fakery.

  • No blue tick. Think about it. Warren Buffett is a big, big deal - why wouldn't his account be verified by Twitter?
  • Limited activity. The account's first tweet is from 25 August and only has motivational quotes. Is this really what one of the world's richest men would focus his social media on?
  • His name is spelt wrong. It's Warren Buffett, not Warren Buffet.

These signs and warnings that the account is fake haven't stopped journalistsand politicians from sharing the tweets.

The account mimics Buffett's wholesome folksy style - making it feel like the man himself is broadcasting life tips in kindly tones, peppering his advice with modern-day concerns about anxiety and fast-paced lifestyles.

"Saying good words to people will never go out of style," it suggests, or: "In a given day, how many hours are you happy and stress-free? Measure that."

"Things I've learned with age: No happiness without gratitude; no peace without forgiveness; no good habits without self-discipline," reads one tweet posted on Tuesday.

But in contrast, Buffett actually tweets infrequently and selectively. His handful of tweets include a profile of successful female business owners or an op-ed about progressive economics.

View image on Twitter

Mary Rhinehart, a Berkshire CEO, is successfully running a $2.5B company in a male-dominated field

6:08 PM - Mar 5, 2015

Twitter Ads info and privacy


End of Twitter post by @WarrenBuffett

Can the viral success of the fake account be attributed to our desperation for positive content in these dark times? Or maybe we're hoping to walk in the footsteps of one of the world's more successful investors.

The BBC has contacted @WarrenBuffet99 to find out more behind the account but it has not responded to queries.

Meanwhile if you're mourning the loss of a morning pick-me-up, fear not, you can turn to some bona fide Warren Buffett words of wisdom.

"The less the prudence with which others conduct their affairs, the greater the prudence with which we must conduct our own," reads the 2017 edition of the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder letter.

By UGC & Social news

Source: bbc.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 28th Aug 2018

Fitness trackers over-estimate the number of steps their users take, analysis of 67 research reports suggests

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Fitbit and other fitness trackers are inaccurate, misleading users by over-estimating the number of steps taken, according to researchers at the University of British Columbia.

The research, published in the medical journal JIMR Health, found that the devices have a habit of registering steps while users are undertaking other daily tasks.

The researchers reached their conclusions from studying 67 studies examining the accuracy of the Fitbit fitness tracker, the market leader.

"Consistent evidence indicated that Fitbit devices were likely to meet acceptable accuracy for step count approximately half the time, with a tendency to underestimate steps in controlled testing and overestimate steps in free-living settings," the authors concluded.

There are seemingly a limited number of situations where the device is likely to provide accurate measurement

They continued: "Consistent evidence indicated that Fitbit devices were unlikely to provide accurate measures for energy expenditure in any testing condition.

"Evidence from a few studies also suggested that, compared with research-grade accelerometers, Fitbit devices may provide similar measures for time in bed and time sleeping, while likely markedly overestimating time spent in higher-intensity activities and underestimating distance during faster-paced ambulation."

The study concluded: "...there are seemingly a limited number of situations where the device is likely to provide accurate measurement."

However, research tends to indicate that the inaccuracies are common to all fitness trackers, not just Fitbit.

In January last year, Sandra O'Connell, Gearóid Ólaighin and Leo Quinlan at the University of Galway analysed five physical fitness monitors and found that all of them tended to over-estimate the number of steps taken to a greater or lesser extent.

In its experiment, "participants wore five activity monitors simultaneously for a variety of prescribed activities including deskwork, taking an elevator, taking a bus journey, automobile driving, washing and drying dishes; functional reaching task; indoor cycling; outdoor cycling; and indoor rowing".

It tested the ActivPAL micro, the NL-2000 pedometer, the Withings Smart Activity Monitor Tracker (the Pulse O2), Fitbit One and the Jawbone UP.

All activity monitors registered a significant number of false positive steps per minute during one or more of the activities, the study concluded.

The Withings device, it advised, registered the fewest false positives and performed best overall, but "all monitors tested recorded steps when no steps actually took place (false positives) to a greater or lesser extent depending on the activity being performed".

The growing body of research will confirm widespread suspicions that fitness trackers are often inaccurate.

Fitbit, for example, is facing a class-action lawsuit from users (in the US, where else?) claiming that the company has oversold the technology.

V3 has contacted Fitbit for comment and will update the story as soon as the company responds. 

Source: v3.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 21st Aug 2018

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Russian attempts to launch cyber-attacks against US conservative groups have been thwarted, Microsoft says.

The software company said Russian hackers had tried to steal data from political organisations, including the International Republican Institute and the Hudson Institute think tanks.

But they had been thwarted when its security staff had won control of six net domains mimicking their websites.

Microsoft said the Fancy Bear hacking group had been behind the attacks.

Domain control

"We're concerned that these and other attempts pose security threats to a broadening array of groups connected with both American political parties in the run-up to the 2018 elections," Microsoft said in its blog detailing its work.

The thwarted attack was likely the start of a "spear phishing" campaign, said Microsoft. This would involve tricking people into visiting the mimicked domains allowing the Fancy Bear group to see and steal login information that people use.

As well as the two think-tanks, the domains seized were associated with several Senate offices and services. One domain sought to mimic Microsoft's Office 365 online service.

Russia has denied Microsoft's allegations that it targeted the right-wing think-tanks. A Russian diplomatic source told the Interfax news agency that Microsoft was acting like a "prosecutor" rather than a private company.

"Microsoft is playing political games," the unnamed source told the agency. "The (mid-term U.S.) elections have not happened yet, but there are already allegations."

The New York Times suggested that the two think tanks were targeted because they were former supporters of President Trump but were now foes who had called for more sanctions to be imposed on Russia.

The International Republican Institute's directors include Senator John McCain and General HR McMaster who was replaced earlier this year as the White House national security adviser.

IRI president Daniel Twining told the Times that the attacks were consistent with the "campaign of meddling" the Kremlin is known to have indulged in.

Image captionSome of Fancy Bear's activities had previously been identified by the cyber-security company Crowdstrike

In its blog, Microsoft president Brad Smith said it had grabbed dodgy domains 12 times in two years to shut down 84 websites associated with Fancy Bear.

It said that, so far, it had no evidence that the domains had been used in any attacks. The domains could have been set up to help a future planned assault.

Microsoft added that the attack activity seen around the domains "mirrors" what it saw in 2016 in the US and during the 2017 election in France.

Microsoft's action comes soon after the US charged 12 Russian intelligence officers with hacking computer networks used by Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party.

Russia has consistently denied meddling in the elections or mounting any cyber-attacks on US institutions.

Source: bbc.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 21st Aug 2018

Provided they don’t put humans out of business altogether, there is a good chance that, at some point in your lifetime, you will find yourself working for a robot boss. But if you think you will have an easier time working for a machine than you do working for your current flesh-and-blood boss, you may be setting yourself up for disappointment.

At least, that is the takeaway from a new piece of research coming out of France’s University of Clermont Auvergne, where investigators have been examining the best way that robots can coax the most productivity out of us as employees. The sad answer? Quite possibly by behaving like jerks.

Their experiment involved the so-called Stroop test, in which different color words appear on a screen, and subjects must identify the color without getting fooled by the word itself. (For example, identifying the word “brown” written in pink as pink, rather than brown.)

For this robot boss variation on the test, participants were first made to have a chat with a robot, which either gave positive (“I think we could become friends”) answers or negative ones (“I do not value friendship”) to questions. The test subjects then took the test. Those who made fewer mistakes, and answered more rapidly, were the folks paired with the meaner of the machines. These subjects performed better than either people paired with friendlier robots or with no robot at all.

As Nicolas Spatola, one of the researchers on the project, told Digital Trends, this effect is not limited to robots; more callous human bosses also prompt similar test results from subjects. However, it can vary according to the difficulty of the tasks, meaning that there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. “There is a theory of challenge and threat from [psychologist Jim] Blascovich that explain this very well,” Spatola said. “The idea is that the presence of others increase our arousal, and according to the difficulty of the task it can be positive or negative.”

Unfortunately, it does mean that whatever more jerk-like traits we see in some human bosses are likely to continue into the age of automation. Heck, it might even be in roboticists’ interest to program them in. Jerkiness could be a feature, rather than a bug. Not that Spatola is necessarily endorsing that idea.

“Even if we show that a bad robot can have a positive effect, we do not know what could happen to individuals if they were monitored by a bad robot during a long period,” Spatola continued. “I’m not sure that it would be good for their well-being.”

A paper describing the work was recently published in the journal Science Robotics.

Source: digitaltrends.com
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 20th Aug 2018

They're the first thing many of us look at in the morning and the last thing at night. Our phones are never far from our side and we're checking them every 12 minutes, according to Ofcom.

It's a love affair that looks set to last so we've come up with five rules of phone use worth observing - from no phones at dinnertime to turning it off at the checkout.

Thou shalt not....

1. Talk on the phone at mealtimes

An absolute no-no for most (81%) of us - yet half of us have been with others who've done it. And more than a quarter (26%) of young adults admit to it.

"They should always be off and out of sight during meals, meetings and parties," insists Diana Mather, of The English Manner consultancy.

"The person you're with is the person who's the most important. None of us is indispensable."

And, if you need proof of what it can do for relationships, Gareth Southgate's boys - hailed for their team ethos - put their phones to one side during team meals and unexpectedly made it to the World Cup semi-finals. A coincidence? Well, maybe.

No phones at the table for England

But even looking at the screen at the dinner table is not on - for some.

More than four in five people aged 55 and over think it's unacceptable to check notifications, compared with around half (46%) of 18 to 34-year-olds.

2. Listen to loud music on public transport

That tinny drone from the top deck of the bus screeching out of a mobile speaker - it's known as sodcasting.

And it applies to watching videos and playing video games loudly, as well as listening to music.

Three-quarters (76%) of us object to it - but it doesn't stop us doing it.

I can't believe a middle-aged couple on this train is sodcasting the BBC livestream of the royal wedding. And with their own commentary, too. "Charles. <pause> The children. <pause>. Ooh here's Harry. He's a bit nervous."

Feel bad for sodcasting Peppa Pig on the train, but it does save having a 3 yr old running up and down. Suppose I could read to her for proper middle class Mummy-hood, but that's probably more annoying

3. Be on the phone when you should be listening

You're at the till but on the phone mid-conversation. Do you hang up, say a polite "hello" and graciously pack away your bread and clementines - or chat on regardless?

It's a source of frustration for many a shop worker, receptionist and waiter. One Sainsbury's checkout worker was so incensed when a customer refused to end her call that she refused to serve her. The supermarket apologised.

The BBC asks when should you hang up your phone

"Texting and talking is so rude," says manners expert Diana Mather.

"We're still animals - the pheromones, the charisma, the aura - if we're not concentrating on each other, we're wasting a huge opportunity to get to know each other better."

John McDonnell's colleagues might have missed out on getting to know the shadow chancellor a little better during this Commons session.

He had something to say on the 2016 Autumn Statement - but not all his colleagues were catching those pheromones.

MPs using phones

4. Walk while looking at your phone

They've got their head down, eyes peeled to the screen - and they're right in your path. Internally you're screaming Look up! Look up! But no - it's the pavement slalom again - dodging in and out of pedestrians in the phone zone.

And Twitter user @tiredhorizon has a public warning for them. Put away your phones in public buildings, hospitals and near reversing lorries.

He describes having to push huge bins around them and has seen them get in the way of porters pushing patients in hospital beds. Not good.

Please tell people to put down their phones when entering public buildings. I have to push huge bins around them and no matter how safe you try to be someone on a phone invariably causes a problem. I've had people walk into stationary bins!!

5. Fiddle with devices while watching TV with others

This rule, it seems, is up for negotiation. Four in 10 (41%) adults think it's unacceptable to use a phone while curled up with the family on the sofa in front of Strictly.

For the older generation (those over 55) it's more of an issue - 62% object to it - than for younger adults - only one in five have a problem with it.

Source: bbc.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 20th Aug 2018

The chief economist of the Bank of England has warned that the UK will need a skills revolution to avoid "large swathes" of people becoming "technologically unemployed" as artificial intelligence makes many jobs obsolete.

Andy Haldane said the possible disruption of what is known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution could be "on a much greater scale" than anything felt during the First Industrial Revolution of the Victorian era.

He said that he had seen a widespread "hollowing out" of the jobs market, rising inequality, social tension and many people struggling to make a living.

It was important to learn the "lessons of history", he argued, and ensure that people were given the training to take advantage of the new jobs that would become available.

He added that in the past a safety net such as new welfare benefits had also been provided.

'Dark side'

Mr Haldane's points were echoed by the new head of the government's advisory council on artificial intelligence, who also warned there was a "huge risk" of people being left behind as computers and robots changed the world of work.

Tabitha Goldstaub, chair of the newly formed Artificial Intelligence Council, said that the challenge was ensuring that people were ready for change and that the focus was on creating the new jobs of the future to replace those that would disappear.

Each of those [industrial revolutions] had a wrenching and lengthy impact on the jobs market, on the lives and livelihoods of large swathes of society," Mr Haldane told me for the Today Programme.

"Jobs were effectively taken by machines of various types, there was a hollowing out of the jobs market, and that left a lot of people for a lengthy period out of work and struggling to make a living.

"That heightened social tensions, it heightened financial tensions, it led to a rise in inequality.

"This is the dark side of technological revolutions and that dark-side has always been there.

"That hollowing out is going to be potentially on a much greater scale in the future, when we have machines both thinking and doing - replacing both the cognitive and the technical skills of humans."

Mr Haldane said that job losses would be compensated for by the creation of new jobs as a "new technological wave" broke over society.

"That is a much harder number to begin to estimate or guesstimate," he said.

"What we can I think say with some confidence, however, is that given that the scale of job loss displacement it is likely to be at least as large as that of the first three industrial revolutions.

"We will need even greater numbers of new jobs to be created in the future, if we are not to suffer this longer-term feature called technological unemployment.

"It has not been a feature of the past, but could it possibly be a feature for the future? I think that is a much more open question than any previous point, possibly, in history."

Mr Haldane said that jobs that focused on skills of human interaction, face-to-face conversation and negotiation would be likely to flourish.

Simple manual jobs would be more at risk.


Ms Goldstaub said there were great opportunities ahead as well as significant challenges.

"What we have to think about is the time in which this change is happening, and it is definitely happening quicker than ever before," she said.

"The challenge we have now is ensuring our workforce is ready for that change.

"What are the new jobs that will be created whether those are in building new technology, maintaining the new technology or collaborating with the new technology?

"There is a hopeful view [based] on the fact that a lot of these jobs [that disappear] are boring, mundane, unsafe, drudgery - there could be some element of liberation from some of these jobs and a move towards a brighter world.

"Now that's not going to be an easy journey, but I do believe there is hope at the end of it all."

Source: bbc.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 20th Aug 2018

Staff at Gatwick Airport are having to write flight information on whiteboards because of a technical problem with the airport's digital screens.

Image result for whiteboards


Vodafone provides the service, and said a damaged fibre cable was to blame.

"Our engineers are working hard to fix the cable as quickly as possible. This is a top priority for us," it said.

An airport spokesman apologised to passengers affected by the issue, adding that a "handful of people" had missed their flights.

Passengers have been advised to use the temporary flight information boards in the departure lounges or listen for airline flight announcements.

All flights are currently leaving on time.

Some passengers have complained about chaotic scenes

Passengers have taken to social media to vent their frustration at the loss of the flight information screens.

Helen Walsh tweeted that the situation was "absolute carnage", while CheerfulChappy said Gatwick Airport was "an embarrassment to the UK, letting a simple IT problem knock out all of the departure info screens".

Elizabeth Humphries tweeted that the situation was "appalling".

"Thank goodness I have eagle-vision and can read messy writing from a distance," she said.

Staff at Gatwick Airport have been using loud hailers to reach as many passengers as possible

Image result for loud hailers

But actress Kirsty Malpass praised the airport staff, saying a lot of people were "scurrying around with markers and erasers" and it was "surprisingly calm and ordered".

Source: bbc.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 20th Aug 2018
  • The UK's Competition and Markets Authority is investigating celebrities and social media stars for not labeling paid promotions on platforms like Instagram and YouTube.
  • The competition authority has written to a number of stars it suspects of wrongdoing and could name and shame them before the end of the year.
  • It is not, at this stage, talking to the social media platforms about whether they are doing enough to stamp out the practice.

Britain's Competition and Markets Authority has launched an investigation into celebrities and social media stars failing to declare when they are being paid to promote brands on platforms like Instagram.

The competition authority said it has written to a range of online stars to gather information about their posts and the nature of the deals they strike with brands to sell everything from vacations to makeup.

Those contacted could be in breach of UK consumer laws, and if they don't comply, the Competition and Markets Authority could potentially take them to court. 

The Competition and Markets Authority plans to name those caught up in the investigation before the end of the year. They are understood to be well-known individuals, with large online followings.

Social media celebrities have in the past fallen afoul of advertising rules, which require them to clearly label their posts as adverts if they are being paid to promote goods and services.

One case in 2015 involved Millie Mackintosh, a former reality TV star who has 1.3 million followers on Instagram. She was rapped by the Advertising Standards Authority after posting a video featuring a J20 drink that was not clearly marked as an advert.

The Competition and Markets Authority is not, at this stage, talking to social media platforms like Instagram and YouTube about whether they are doing enough to clamp down on poorly labeled ads. Its investigation could broaden, however, depending on its findings. 

"If people see clothes, cosmetics, a car, or a holiday being plugged by someone they admire, they might be swayed into buying it," said George Lusty, the Competition and Markets Authority's senior director for consumer protection.

"So, it’s really important they are clearly told whether a celebrity is promoting a product because they have bought it themselves, or because they have been paid or thanked in some way by the brand."

Source: uk.businessinsider.com
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 14th Aug 2018

Image result for facebookPeople in the Indian subcontinent will, from Friday, have only one way to watch top flight Spanish football: on Facebook.

The social network has signed an exclusive deal to show every La Liga game, for the next three seasons, to viewers in India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, The Maldives, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. The rights were previously held by Sony Pictures Network.

The terms of the new deal have not been disclosed. The last time they were for sale, in 2014, they were bought for $32m, according to Reuters.

There are 348m Facebook users in the region, 270m of them are in India.

It is the latest move from Facebook, and the tech industry in general, to invest in highly lucrative sports rights for emerging streaming services.

The social network already shows Major League Baseball to US audiences at a reported cost of $1m per game. As with the rest of Facebook, the content is free but supported by targeted advertising.

Speaking to Reuters, Facebook’s director of global live sports said the La Liga streams would at first be advertising-free, but it was considering how best to implement them in future.

“This is one deal,” Peter Hutton told the news agency. “It’s not something that is a big threat to broadcast world.”

There are 270m Facebook users in India

It’s unlikely broadcasters will see it that way - and they’re wise not to.

Live sport is the major driver of subscriptions to premium cable or satellite services, and the slow creep of technology companies buying up sports rights will have traditional broadcasters concerned.

Since the rise of Netflix and others, live sport has been just about the only thing holding many potential cord-cutters back from making the chop.

The Facebook-La Liga deal is part of a global trend. In the UK, the current Premier League season will be the last time every live match will be shown on a TV channel.

Next season, 20 games will be online-only - viewable only through Amazon. The company will bundle the games in with its Prime subscription service.

Huge TV deals gave the English Premier League global influence

Similarly, in the US, the National Football League (NFL) has renewed last season’s deal with Amazon to bring 11 “Thursday Night Football” matches to Prime. To get them, Amazon had to win a bidding war involving Twitter, YouTube and Verizon.

Outside the US, the National Basketball Association (NBA) is being streamed in China - by online giant Tencent. An average of 2m people watch each game.

We should also consider a major sport of the future - eSports. Watching professional gamers is an industry predicted by some to soon be worth over $1bn a year. Tech giants got there first: the top platforms for eSports viewing are Amazon-owned Twitch and Google's YouTube.

Disney will broadcast the popular Overwatch League

In something of a role reversal, traditional broadcasters are making deals to bring eSports offline and onto regular TV.

Most notably, Disney recently announced a multi-year deal to broadcast live action from Overwatch League, one of the biggest eSports competitions. Disney’s channels, which include ESPN and ABC, will share the action - and it will be streamed online too, of course.

‘We don’t do live sports'

So what does all this platform-shifting mean for world sport?

We’re at the beginning of a financial shift, maybe the biggest since the early 1990s, when the major football leagues in Europe commericialised their competitions to new heights. Transfer fees and wages soared thanks, in a big way, to the phenomenal TV deals these new sporting megabrands could attract.

Is that changing? Perhaps. This year's deal for UK rights for the Premier League came in at £496m less than in 2017 - the first time in the Premier League’s history that TV revenue has dropped year-on-year.

The tech giants have money to burn. With its yearly content budget of $8bn, Netflix could buy the next three seasons of Premier League UK rights twice over. But it doesn’t plan to, saying it won’t follow its competitors.

"We don't do [live] news, we don't do [live] sports,” chief executive Reed Hastings told a room of journalists in Hollywood earlier this year. "But what we do do, we try to do really well.”

With subscriber growth slowing this year, the industry is watching to see how long it can hold on to that stance, especially as its rivals seem eager to open their wallets.

Source: bbc.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 14th Aug 2018

Image result for zoombiesThere are zombies on the internet - odd, undead lumps of code that roam endlessly seeking and finding fresh victims to infect that help keep the whole ugly horde staggering on, and on.

Most of these shambling data revenants are computer viruses and the most long-lived of all are worms.

"Most of those worms are self-spreading - that's why we still see them moving around," said Candid Wueest, principal threat researcher at Symantec, who has hunted viruses for years.

Typically, he said, when these malicious programs infected a machine, they kicked off a routine that scanned the entire net looking for other computers vulnerable in the same way as their current host.

When they found one, they installed a copy that also started scanning.

"All it takes is a few machines to get them moving around again," he added.

The living dud

One of the most active zombie viruses is Conficker, which first struck in November 2008. At its height, the worm is believed to have infected up to 15 million Windows PCs.

The French navy, UK warships, Greater Manchester Police and many others were all caught out by Conficker, which targeted the Windows XP operating system.

The malware caused so much trouble that Microsoft put up a bounty of $250,000 (£193,000) for any information that would lead to the capture of Conficker's creators.

That bounty was still live and, Microsoft told the BBC, remained unclaimed to this day.

Dr Paul Vixie, from Farsight Security, was part of the Conficker Working Group, set up when the malware was at its feverish peak.

There are millions of viruses in circulation - but most have only a short life

The group had managed to stem the tide of infection, said Dr Vixie, because of the way the virus worked.

One of the ways it spread was by it checking one of a handful of net domains for instructions or updates every day.

And the first two variants of Conficker picked one domain from a list of 250 randomly generated names.

But some clever software reverse engineering worked out how the daily domains were generated.

In 2008, Dr Vixie helped to run the net's Domain Name System so was able to co-ordinate a global effort to register every day's possible domains before the malware's creators did the same.

And data sent from infected machines was then "sinkholed" almost neutering Conficker's ability to spread.

"We got it from 11 million down to one million," said Dr Vixie. "That sounds like progress but one million is still a pretty big number."

hat zombie virus was still wandering around, said Dr Vixie.

Statistics gathered by Symantec suggest there were 1.2 million Conficker infections in 2016 and 840,000 in 2017.

India suffered the highest number of infections last year.

"The population is gradually reducing in size because eventually computers wear out or they get upgraded or replaced," Dr Vixie said.

And that is just as well because the concerted efforts to directly combat Conficker are all but at an end.

Dr Vixie and some others still block a few of the domains its variants seeks out but only to sample the traffic they send to get an idea of the viral load Conficker places on the net.

The good news was that Conficker had never been "weaponised", said Dr Vixie.

His theory is that Conficker escaped too early and was too successful for its creators to risk making it more malicious.

Data of the dead

But Conficker was not alone in persisting long after its initial outburst, said Mr Wueest, from Symantec.

Its network of sensors across the net regularly catches a wide range of malware that has lasted for much longer than anyone expected.

Symantec regularly sees the SillyFDC virus from 2007, Virut from 2006 and even a file infector called Sality that dates from 2003.

"We do see Dos viruses now and then," he said. The disk operating system (Dos) is more than 36 years old and dates from the early days of the desktop PC. Even older versions ran on mainframes.

"Our guess is that sometimes it is researchers that have found an old disk and its gets run and gets detected," said Mr Wueest.

Net-connected cameras are helping attackers mount large-scale attacks such as Mirai

There were many others, said Martin Lee, technical, lead for security research at Cisco.

"Malware samples can be long-lived in that they are continued to be observed 'in the wild' many months or years after they were first encountered," he said.

One regularly caught in the spam traps by Cisco is another worm, called MyDoom, that appeared in 2004.

"It's often the most commonly detected malware we get in our traps," said Mr Lee.

But many viruses lived on in another fashion, he said, because of the way the cyber-crime underground treated code.

"Malware is rarely static," he said, "computer code from older malware families can be shared, or stolen, and used in the development of new malware."

One prime example of this, said Mr Lee, was the Zeus banking Trojan, whose source code was leaked in 2011.

That code had proved so useful that it was still turning up seven years later, he said.

The trend of zombie malware was likely to continue if more modern viruses were any guide, said Mr Lee.

Mirai first appeared in 2016 but is proving hard to eradicate.

"It has features suggesting that it will be exceptionally long lived," Mr Lee said.

The bug infects networked devices unlikely to be running anti-virus software. Some cannot be upgraded to run any kind of decent protection.

As the net grows and starts to incorporate more of those dumber devices, Mirai, like Conficker will probably never be eradicated.

"With the source code of the malware leaked, and a simple method of propagation using default usernames and passwords to compromise devices, it is something that will be with us for years," Mr Lee said.

Source: bbc.co.uk
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