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Combination of spam and spyware likely to pose threats

The combination of spam and spyware may soon pose challenges to Internet security. Mark Sunner, CTO of Message Labs warns of a possible convergence of phishing-type spam e-mails and spyware. Sunner issued this warning at the annual INBOX e-mail conference held last week in San Jose, California during the "savvy spammer" panel discussion. He believes that the IT security landscape is bound for a potentially dangerous shift.

According to Peter Christy, principal analyst at the Internet Research Group, over ninety per cent of the spam attacks today originate from bot-infected machines. A sizeable amount of net users are unaware of the threats posed by spam e-mails. Business Software Alliance (BSA) has pointed out that a vast majority of users have no idea regarding the spammer's motives. spammers exploit security flaws in popular web browsers to install spyware. A study by BSA indicates that, "once the software is installed on PCs and networks; information that is given over the internet can be obtained and abused."

The spam-spyware combination capable of spawning attack tools could fashion mayhem on the Internet. This convergence has the potential to create detailed, unauthorized databases consisting of profiles of individual users browsing the net. Through the process of phishing, the user is tricked into sharing sensitive information; under the impression that he is communicating with a trustworthy person. This information facilitates more refined frauds.

The propensity of financial crimes spreading over the internet is chilling. The convergence of abuse of both spam and spyware is likely to generate a vast network of frauds. Sunner believes that this convergence will happen at a fast pace. While it took the threat of virus and worms well over 16 years to evolve from the earlier boot-sector malware to the modern day commercial malware, spam-spyware will no doubt evolve at a speedier rate. Moreover the impact of such a combination would be far more devastating. E-mail continues to remain the most popular tool to hack into corporate networks, to steal identities, cripple local networks and systems. Spam is being used to pivot the launch of spyware necessary for cyber-crimes. Computer users should stay alert against such evolving threats.

Related article: Companies Should Report Cybercrime

ยป SPAMfighter News - 08-06-2006

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