London Hospitals Hit by a Virus. (No, the Other Virus.)

PCWorld brings news today of a worm that hit three London hospitals in early 2005. Looks like almost three years on, the systems are nearly free of the Mytob worm that forced hospital administrators to shut down all PCs as a precaution.

The virus update said of the three hospitals infected, St Bartholomew's, the Royal London Hospital, and The London Chest Hospital, 97% of their PCs are worm-free now.

What's interesting in this story, and a fact often forgotten, is that the PCs (supposedly) had McAfee antivirus software installed. McAfee claims the software installed had signatures to catch this worm, which begs the following questions then:

  • Was it really installed?
  • Was it installed before or (as often happens) after the outbreak by someone attempting a CYA?
  • Was the antivirus software disabled by users frustrated by it?
  • Did it just fail?
  • It's easy to smell a rat in here somewhere, especially when the best quote from a "hospital spokesman" was that "an investigation is ongoing." Uh huh. Sure thing. Riiiiight.

    We call BS: if you're still looking three years later, you're not looking.

    Regardless of this though, it seems unlikely to us that McAfee's software is to blame. It seems more likely than not that this is a case of human error that resulted in a tragic system meltdown.

    The lesson here as far as we're concerned is one we feel can't be repeated too often or too much:

    1.) install antivirus software
    2.) listen to its warnings

    If it doth protest too much, learn what it's complaining about: it might just be a real warning.


    Morro: Microsoft's free anti-virus / anti-malware

    Our friends in Redmond, Washington, are at it again. :-)

    Microsoft just announced their own free anti-malware / anti-virus software. cnet has full coverage of Microsoft's Morro anti-virus software and the general consensus amongst security industry companies seems to be a universal shrug.

    Here's what reps from some of the leading companies had to say in interviews for the article:

    Company   Quote
    McAfee "With more malware attacks than ever before, we believe our advanced technology... will provide consumers the confidence to choose McAfee as their trusted adviser and expert in security."
    Symantec "...it's simply not in Microsoft's DNA to provide high-quality, frequently updated security protection."
    Kaspersky "[Microsoft has] continued to hold a very low market share in the consumer market, and we don't expect the exit of OneCare to change the playing field drastically."

    Hmmm... doesn't sound like any are quaking at the thought of having Microsoft as a competitor in the antivirus software marketplace anytime soon.