May 16, 2005
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Is it just me? I seem to be experiencing a considerable uptick in unsolicited emails from unknown sources. I am also receiving more email reject notifications than the number of emails I am sending out. Ditto for confirmations of passwords and registrations. All of these emails have attachments. If there is a company name in the sending email header, I check the web to see if it's a new EDA company or organization I might not have heard of. I am somewhat paranoid about the possibility that these attachments may contain computer viruses, so I just delete them.
I was once a victim of a computer virus; not a pleasant experience trying to recreate everything. This was not quite as bad as when I had my computer stolen out of my hotel room while on a consulting assignment in Budapest, Hungary.
I don't understand the mindset of those who create and spread viruses. It is beyond belief that someone who knows how to do this has no comprehension of the damage that can be done. There is no economic incentive for unleashing a conventional virus. Since those impacted by a virus are random people, there is no personal motive as from a disgruntled present or former employee. For conventional viruses there is little technical challenge and therefore there can be little sense of accomplishment.
require some action on the part of the user to spread inadvertently to other programs or systems. The name Trojan horse comes from the Homeric story of a gift by the Greeks to the Trojans of a large horse concealing soldiers later emerged to open up the city gates. Recipients of a Trojan Horse are usually tricked into opening them because they appear to be receiving legitimate software or files from a legitimate source.
Malware can be received via email, downloads (shareware, screensavers, ), file sharing across a network, peer-to-peer computing, media (CDs, DVDs, floppies, memory sticks, ), instant messaging and so forth. Many enter a computer as a separate executable attachment, while others are embedded as macros in word processing files, spreadsheets and the like. Hackers may also target a website or network by exploiting vulnerabilities in the operating system or communication system.
There are now more than 100,000 known viruses. Some of the better known computer worms of the last two years are
There was actually a war of sorts between the authors of Netsky and the authors of Bagle and MyDoom worm families. The virus authors attempted to undo each other which led to the development of numerous variants. This is where reputation and the sense of achievement become motivating factors.
Spamming is the use of any electronic communications medium to send unsolicited messages in bulk. The term spam is derived from the Monty Python SPAM sketch, set in a cafe where everything on the menu includes SPAM luncheon meat.
Some see spam as the electronic equivalent of junk mail. The differece is that the cost of sending millions of spam emails is almost nothing while the cost of junk mail even with bulk mail rates would be considerable. Further, spammers sometime use worms to take over computers (you, mine) as a base from which to send out spam.
make a significant amount of money while the site is up and running - most phishing sites last only a few days before being shut down. Depending on the type of account which has been compromised, phishers can commit further fraud or gain unauthorized access to other computers or networks.
“Pharming” is like phishing, in that it aims to steal confidential account information. Unlike phishing, however, this method does not rely on phony emails to lure unsuspecting victims. Pharming uses Trojan horse viruses that change the behavior of web browsers. User attempts to access an online banking site or one of the other target sites actually trigger the browser to redirect to a fraudulent site. Once a machine is infected, a user can type the correct URL and still end up at the fraudulent site.
Industry analysts believe that more than 2/3rds of all PCs are infected with spyware, software that gathers and reports information about a computer user without the user's knowledge or cosent. The symptoms of spyware include:
What is being done to counteract the growing numbers, increasing sophistication and greater maliciousness of these elements? How have the government, private organizations, Microsoft and vendors of anti-virus tools responded?
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-- Jack Horgan, EDACafe.com Contributing Editor.
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