And the Answers Are …

Clients and friends (a recent one is my friend Joyce) often ask me three questions, “(1)Just who are these people who spend their time creating malware and spyware?” And this is usually followed quickly by, (2)”Don’t they have anything better to do?‚”and “(3)Why do they do it?” Now, after a recent article in the Calgary Herald by Jan Ravensbergen of Canwest News Sevice, I can give you three more concrete answers.

1. 17 kids from Quebec. 2. Obviously not. 3. For the money.

The 17 kids were from Quebec aged 17 to 25, all male but for one 19-year-old female. They were computer-savvy young adults who took over 1 million computers in 100 different countries. They turned these computers into very, slow unresponsive “zombies” they commanded for their own ends: identity theft, data theft, and fraud. They put the zombies on a botnet, which makes these youthful perpetrators “zombie herders.”

Botnets are big networks of the zombie computers which are herded or commanded to perform various illegal tasks such as sending spam e-mails; collecting and storing private data such credit card numbers, account numbers, and passwords; or serving pornography.

You’ve probably received a phish e-mail purporting to be from Paypal, e-bay, or a bank or other financial institution. If you clicked on a link in the e-mail, it took you to a fake or “phish” website that looked like the real thing, Paypal or a bank etc., but actually, was a phony copycat. If you were unfortunate enough to have typed in your data, it gave whatever you typed such as your user id or account number and passwords to the people running the botnet.

Trojan horses and worms are usually the means to taking over computers, so it is imperative that you run both anti-spyware and anti-virus software on your system. Many people believe they are safe if they run anti-virus software alone, but the zombie herding used by the 17 kids and other computer fraudsters, is mostly carried out with Trojan horses, a form of spyware. So you need the anti-spyware.

Prevention is so much cheaper and easier than reformatting your hard drive and dealing with identity theft and fraud. So don’t wait until its too late, install anti-spyware and anti-virus software today!! If you live in Calgary, Ducktoes can help you do it. Or you can learn how to do it yourself.

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