This blog has been infected with the "Proof-of-Concept" meme, a mental virus which causes online content maintainers to panic because somebody bent some computer science concepts sufficiently to theoreticize that somebody might crank out a Linux-Windows cross-platform virus in assembly.
The known media sites so far infected: Slashdot, SC Magazine, About.com (of course...), The Register (which seems partially immune), IT World, Desktop Linux, Windows IT-Pro, Techweb...the results are pouring in, it's spreading like wildfire!!!
Symptoms include an overwhealming compulsion to post copy/paste articles lifted from other sites and run through a grammer-bot without reading, accompanied by the most tabloid title-headline the infected mind can come up with. "WORLD DOO_OO_OOMED!" seems to pretty much sum them up. Further symptoms include abandonment of all fact-checking and reason, and complete fabrication in place of research.
And now it's gotten me TOO! *Puff* *Pant* *Pant* Can anything stop this relentless scourge of the Internet???
UPDATE: As of 8/11/06, the Internet was cured of the ravaging phantom by one article on Newsforge, which nailed it to the wall by producing garlic and black candles to banish the boogey.
To protect yourself against such outbreaks in the future, it is advised that you be well-informed and think.
FOLLOWUP 4/17/06: NewsForge got ahold of it (IT! The actual, physical code!) and tested it and sent the results to Linus Torvalds, who had this to say:
That said, it sounds like it's a regular program that just happens to work on both Windows and Linux, and that happens to do things that are perfectly OK per se (i.e. writing to files that are owned by the user). So it's interesting just because of the "works on both Linux and Windows" angle, not because of any viral nature.
Now mind you, as anybody who's coded a program that ran on their home PC only to see it die horribly in Beta testing, there's a heck of a difference between an outbreak-capable virus and what these people did. Give me a lab and determination, I'll code you a virus that infects rocks. The viral code, when force-fed to a laboratory computer, did it's job. But it has yet to be emailed to somebody who "clicks here" and unwittingly infects their machine. As for writing a program that runs on both Windows and Linux, it's called "Python".
But there have been viruses/malware running on Unix platforms for years! They're few and far between, but they *have* happened! This is part of what we mean when we say we have to patch a security hole. If you don't patch the hole, somebody can exploit it. That's not why I'm making fun of this fiasco.
Why I'm making fun of this fiasco is the implication that a virus on Linux alone is not even front page news, but one that runs on Windows as well is Deeply Momentous, seemingly because that means it could *really* mess Linux up. The other half again of why I'm making fun of this is because half the sites covering the story made it sound like the virus had been maliciously released or has escaped, swept the world, destroyed the Net, and was now advancing on New York to amble up the Empire State building and clobber planes.