Bytware Announces i5virus Winners
January 28, 2008 Dan Burger
Case closed. For two months at the end of 2007, System i users from around the world were on the trail of cyber criminals who compromised the security of several financial organizations. Justice, you’ll be happy to learn, has been served. Fictionally speaking, that is. Bytware, a System i vendor specializing in system management and security solutions, used this well-developed and highly publicized cyber crime game as a marketing tool to bring attention to security issues surrounding the use of PHP on the System i and, of course, to associate the company with antivirus protection. It worked as easily as an open and shut case.
Through an advertising campaign that leaked clues about how the crimes were committed and who might be responsible, Bytware was able to not only increase awareness of a potential problem, but also provide some entertainment along the way. Chris Jones, marketing director at Bytware, was the brains behind the caper and the viral marketing approach that it took. He made clever use of a YouTube video and an on-going scenario of clues that were picked up by savvy amateur sleuths who attempted to be the first to nab the perpetrators. It was sort of a blending of CSI: System i meets the Amazing Race.
In short, the drama began when a financial services company had its System i server hacked by a crime syndicate in China. As the story unfolded, participants (the would-be cyber detectives) searched for clues via videos posted to a unique Website, YouTube videos, and advertisements that appeared on System i-related Websites.
According to a press release from Bytware, “more than 1,600 players from 65 countries took part in the game.” The company also released the list of contest winners: Anna Musella-Chiasson, a senior analyst at CGI in Canada, was the grand prize winner. She collected a Nintendo Wii for her sleuthing efforts. Other top cyber crime detectives included Kristina Alcorn, a senior systems engineer at the Automotive Retail Group in Troy, Michigan; Suzanne Dahms, executive vice president of Union Bank in Lake Odessa, Michigan; John Pfitzner, a programmer at EFCO in Monett, Missouri; and Patrick Sczypiorski, a manager of application systems at Velvac in New Berlin, Wisconsin.
For those wondering about the “hackability” of the System i, it is true that i5/OS is immune from Windows viruses. However, the Integrated File System that is an adjunct to i5/OS can serve as a repository for Windows viruses, and can therefore infect and re-infect Windows PCs, even those that have antivirus installed. The possibility of a PHP vulnerability leading to a virus that could infect i5/OS or the IFS is similar to Windows virus infestations on the System i server. PHP.org lists 480 vulnerabilities in the PHP runtime at this time. Yikes.