Saturday, October 09, 2004

In cyberspace, no one can hear you scream

The Christian Science Monitor has an article by Gregory Lamb talking about the dramatic growth of computer viruses and the growing partnership of spammers and virus writers.

Viruses can now enter computers as programs attached to e-mails sent by spammers. Once embedded in a machine, the viruses return the favor. By secretly taking control of computers, the viruses can create networks of "bots," programs that turn computers into "zombies." These computers are then employed by spammers to send out floods of anonymous spam messages.

These spams often include "phishing" scams - e-mails that appear to be from a bank or credit-card company but are really trying to steal account passwords or other financial information. Phishing has victimized some 1.8 million consumers and cost banks and credit-card issuers nearly $1.2 billion in the past year, estimates Symantec, a maker of computer-security software in Cupertino, Calif.

In the first half of 2003, the average number of bot networks monitored per day by Symantec was 2,000. By the first half of 2004, the number mushroomed to 30,000. Each bot network can contain thousands of infected computers.|Link|

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