The University of Southampton

ECS security expert comments on ZeuS virus

Published: 23 April 2010

Dr John-David ‘JD’ Marsters of the ECS Systems Team appeared on BBC Technology News Online yesterday (Thursday 22 April), commenting on the latest version of the ZeuS virus.

In a story on the return of the virus, which steals online banking details from infected computer users and is prevalent in the online banking community, JD warns of the danger to computer users whose anti-virus software is not up to date: ‘There are plenty of opportunities for people to purchase access to these systems through underground chat rooms,’ he says.

‘It's a game of cat and mouse between anti-virus vendors and botnet developers.’

After the story appeared on BBC News, JD was contacted by BBC Cambridgeshire who then interviewed him for one of their radio shows.

‘I’m pleased to have had the opportunity to discuss this issue,’ says JD, ‘as I strongly believe that education is vital in reducing the growth of online fraud. Every time we connect a computer to the internet, there is a social implication. Every time someone falls victim to an online scam or confidence trick, others are put at risk. Learning to use the internet with care is something for which we all need to take responsibility.

JD completed an undergraduate Masters degree in Computer Engineering in the School of Electronics and Computer Science, and went on to gain a PhD from the School, in Information Security and Biometrics.

He now works in one of the busiest and most high-pressured areas of the School – the ECS Computing Lab in the Zepler Building. Along with Toby Hunt and a team of ECS student helpers, JD ensures that students have access to a wide range of computing resources for coursework and projects, and provides a drop-in support service for all staff and students in the School. He also designs and builds information systems, like the one pictured which informs students which computers are offline or in use at any particular time.

He maintains his academic interest in security and has a particular interest in cybercrime and its implications for Web Science. He comments: ‘Education is crucial if we are to slow the growth in online fraud, and it is important that we begin to understand the social implications of connecting computers to the internet. We are only just beginning to understand the Web as a social phenomenon, something which Web Science research will attempt to tackle over the coming years. Nevertheless, every time we bring an internet connection to our homes and offices we should remember that we are inviting in strangers.’

For further information contact Joyce Lewis; tel.+44(0)23 8059 5453

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