HP trojan foiled by Linux - updated 2x

Summary:HP-hired investigators searching for the source of boardroom leaks allegedly tried to plant a trojan horse program on a CNET reporter's laptop, but the attempt failed. Updated: At first I thought it failed because the reporter was running Linux instead of Windows but it turns out we don't know yet what she was running.

HP-hired investigators searching for the source of boardroom leaks allegedly tried to plant a trojan horse program on a CNET reporter's laptop, but apparently the attempt failed because the reporter was running Linux instead of Windows, according to Groklaw's Pamela Jones [see update below]. Details are sketchy but the New York Times reported:

The detectives also tried to plant software in the computer of a CNET reporter that would communicate back to the detectives, people briefed on the company review said... Representing themselves as an anonymous tipster, the detectives e-mailed a document to a CNET reporter, according to those briefed on the review. The e-mail was embedded with software that was supposed to trace who the document was forwarded to. The software did not work, however, and the reporter never wrote any story based on the bogus document.

CNET is the parent company of ZDNet.

Update 9/19: Pamela's article was a little ambiguously worded, and it has definitely been updated since I first read it. Here's what it says now with additions in italics:

I hope it didn't work because the reporter used Linux, and so it was ineffective. But maybe it just malfunctioned. Or maybe their hope that she'd mail it to the leaker was foiled because she never sent it. In any case, it didn't work. Also no story was written using the bogus tip. That is because reporters are not stupid. It's a job requirement.

So I'm not sure any more whether or not the reporter in this case was really running Linux. I'll try to find out more and update the entry again. It's true though that most malware is written to target Windows, and running Linux (or MacOSX) is one way to reduce (but not eliminate) your exposure. Sorry for any confusion. -Ed

Update 9/19 pm: Pamela sent me a nice note and apologized for the confusion. It turns out she has no info about the operating system. She was just trying to inject a humorous knock against Windows and I mis-interpreted it. PJ has revised her article 4 times now, and I've revised mine 2 times, yet neither of us knows what OS the reporter (Dawn) was running. I sent Dawn a note but haven't gotten a response yet. Odds are it will turn out to be Windows.

Topics: Software

About

Ed Burnette has been hooked on computers ever since he laid eyes on a TRS-80 in the local Radio Shack. Since graduating from NC State University he has programmed everything from serial device drivers and debuggers to web servers. After a delightful break working on commercial video games, Ed reluctantly returned to business software. He... Full Bio

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