Virus + botnets + spam = cash

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I've only slept for a few hours, so this entry may not be all that coherent.

Send-Safe is a software tool used by spammers to control and spam through hundreds if not thousands of infected PC's, usually connected by broadband. These PC's are infected by various trojans, giving the "owners" of those devious tools full control over the machine of an often clueless and unsuspecting computer user. These botnets are then leased out for various purposes such as spam runs, DoS attacks or covering the tracks of other illegal activities.

The days that spamming was done by an individual that thought sending their message to hundreds of mailboxes was a good idea, is long gone. Well, those small-scale operations still occur every now and then, and they are as annoying as the professional spammer flooding our inbox, but the magnitude is quite different. Spamming has become - over the years - a trade of professionals, with huge resources, technical excellence and a total disregard for laws or common courtesy.

It is big bucks people... According to an article on F-Secure, the Send-Safe program actually works on a license verification system. This allows the creators of the tool to verify whether a user of their program has paid the expensive license each time he fires up the spam software. It also allows the maintainers of the botnets to limit access to it, thus keep it going longer and profit from it as much as possible.

Do you start to understand why keeping your personal machine clean and virus free is that important now? Let there be no mistake that the spam gangs (or the virus gangs, although they seem to be less affiliated, for now) are tied to groups of people that don't mind getting their hands dirty. They don't "just spam", but are quite likely also related to more traditional "white collar" crimes such as insurance fraud, phising, money laundering, identity theft...

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This page contains a single entry by ServMe published on March 1, 2005 2:41 PM.

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