This blog is retired.

Spam and the Commercial Malware Industry

Evil spammers and renegade programmers aren’t who you think they are. Sure, both types of Internet abusers can trace their origins back to random individuals who weren’t commercially organized and whose actions didn’t really cause a huge ripple effect across the ‘Net. But all of that has changed.

Today’s virus attacks are written by professional software developers who charge fees to buyers who want to release their own spam, virus or Trojan horse attack. Developers sell plug-and-play “instant virus outbreaks” and root kits that can be purchased and downloaded online. Organized crime cartels from around the world have sunk their claws into the Internet and they’re making billions of dollars per year running their spam networks and phishing sites.

As the good guys uncover these types of operations, and look for ways to fight back, the bad guys are getting smarter and more sophisticated. In fact, professional spammers are hiring linguists to come up with clever ways to get around spam filters, and phishing site operators are hiring psychology majors to craft more persuasive letters.

Internet crime has become so big that the worldwide revenue from Internet scams has exceeded the amount of money being earned by the world’s drug cartels.

Where we once only worried about the occasional virus outbreak or a relatively small amount of spam, the criminals behind today’s Internet threats have created a convergence of Internet threats that feed information and money into each other.

Spam can carry viruses or Trojans which in turn can capture personal and banking information; Trojans can create spam zombies which send out phishing letters which steal personal information; the possible combinations are endless.

There’s a lot of illegal activity going on and much of it can be traced back to organized crime including the Russian Mob. Read these three articles for yourself. You’ll be fascinated and, I bet, more than a bit concerned.

The people who are spamming your blog or forum are probably professionals. No amount of IP blocking is going to stop them. The convergence of Internet threats is so pervasive that your computer could very well be pouring spam out onto the Internet while you’re reading this article. Do us all a favor and take a moment to run your favorite antivirus/adware/Trojan detection tool.