A Dark Day for the Cloud

Leave it to Oprah to attract the crazies.

In this case, one digital crazy: the Mikeyy worm, a bundle of obnoxious code designed to hijack Twitter profiles. It attacked shortly after Winfrey joined the service on Friday morning.

And he was still on the loose Saturday morning, sending unwanted messages from the accounts of those affected. Yet, by midday, Twitter appeared to have closed whatever loopholes allowed Mikeyy to spread.

But concerns remain. Just because Mikeyy wasn't designed to corrupt files a la your average computer virus, doesn't exclude the possibility of Twitter being used to do serious damage, especially now that celebrities like Oprah, Demi Moore, Shaquille O'Neal, and Ashton Kutcher -- who beat CNN to the million-follower mark last week -- spend time in the Twitterverse.

Twitter's troubles with Mikeyy are, in some ways, a canary in the mine for the potential problems of cloud computing, were it to become as widely adopted as Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) , VMware (NYSE: VMW  ) , and others hope. Mikeyy proves that neither Twitter nor the cloud is as fail-safe as we'd like to believe.

No business built to profit from the Web as platform is immune. Not Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN  ) , nor NetSuite, nor Red Hat (NYSE: RHT  ) . See, the problem is that you need scripts -- code that tells other code to do something -- to activate additional services in the cloud. So long as scripts run in a browser, and so long as we mostly use browsers to sift through the cloud, users will be vulnerable to script-eating worms like Mikeyy.

What's less well understood is whether the holes in the cloud are as significant as the holes in Windows, holes that Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) is routinely closing and which create demand for firewalls and antivirus software from the likes of Symantec (Nasdaq: SYMC  ) and McAfee (NYSE: MFE  ) .

Either way, holes are holes. Mikeyy and his digital pals will be happy to walk through any that they find.

Tweet! Tweet! It's related Foolishness @ replying to you:

Microsoft and Symantec are Motley Fool Inside Value picks. Amazon is a Stock Advisor selection. Google and VMware are Rule Breakers recommendations. Try any of these Foolish services free for 30 days. There's no obligation to subscribe.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers had stock and options positions in Google at the time of publication. Connect with Tim on Twitter as @milehighfool. The Motley Fool is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. The Fool's disclosure policy tweets like a bird but stings like a bee.


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  • Report this Comment On May 14, 2009, at 5:53 PM, agreatamphibian wrote:

    "So long as scripts run in a browser, and so long as we mostly use browsers to sift through the cloud, users will be vulnerable to script-eating worms like Mikeyy."

    No, this isn't true. A browser or other "virtual machine" can keep each script in a secure "sandbox" that stops this happening. Security is weak because it costs money and development time and at the moment it isn't really the issue that decides what browser someone will use.

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