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Would a Virus By Any Other Name Smell So Foul?

Found on Slashdot this afternoon: News of an initiative by veteran government contractor Mitre Corp. to standardize names for viruses. Under this "Common Malware Enumeration" scheme, viruses would be given simple alphanumeric identifiers; for instance, one group of variants of the Zotob worm goes by the new moniker of CME-15.

I can see the logic of this in practice; the different names that various antivirus firms come up with invite no end of confusion. (CME-15 is also known as Win32/Zotob.F!Wor, Bozori.B,
Net-Worm.Win32.Bozori.b, W32/Bozori.worm.b, W32/Zotob-F,
W32.Zotob.F, and WORM_ZOTOB.F, depending on who you ask.)

Only problem is, most people have a hard time distinguishing between different, meaningless alphanumeric identifiers. When pressed, we're likely to waffle over whether our machine has come down with CME-104, CEM-114, or CRM-114.

Here's an idea: How about just calling viruses or worms by first names, as we do with hurricanes and tropical storms? You'd never have a problem remembering that it was that little strumpet Leela that/who trashed your laptop.

-- Rob Pegoraro
Washington Post consumer technology editor

By Brian Krebs  |  October 5, 2005; 4:49 PM ET
Categories:  From the Bunker  
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I agree completelly with you. Maybe a mixture of both (CME-XXX 'Whatever') would be something in-between.

Posted by: jcanto | October 6, 2005 5:31 AM | Report abuse

I too think you are onto something. But I would suggest something like "Jeffrey 9-05" a name along with the month and year first identified, then if there are mutations that merit their own name, the date section could be changed for "Jeffrey's" new sibling. And yes, I think the names should be varied from female to male as they are with tropical storms.

Posted by: cjtiger | October 7, 2005 10:45 AM | Report abuse

If a standardized virus naming system is needed, the standard should remind people who allowed the virus problem to exist. The initials should be BGC or BGS to remind those infected that it was Bill Gates that allowed the security holes to exist.

If there is any corporate morality at MS, the security toolkit that Ballmer announced would be free.

Posted by: Don Hawkinson | October 7, 2005 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Lets just use alpa-numeric numbering system w/version number.
This would reduce the amount of attention
given to those who get satisfaction from seeing a virus "named" and possibly aid in the update process that gets rid of the
!@#$%^&* things.

Posted by: Bud | October 12, 2005 7:21 PM | Report abuse

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