Practical Technology

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The botnet business

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Look around you. If you’re in an office or coffee shop where people are using Windows, chances are someone’s PC is now, or recently has been, part of a botnet.

How does it feel to be part of organized crime? What? You think organized crime is something that happens on the U.S./Mexican border or in television series like The Sopranos? Nonsense. It could be happening right now on your computer with a botnet and you might never be the wiser.

Think you’ve got good security? Well, maybe you do. But can you say the same for your colleagues and friends? Probably not. According to RSA, EMC’s Security Division, even at Fortune 500 companies 88% of them had systems that had been accessed by infected machines and 60 percent of them had experienced stolen email account information.

And who runs those botnets, these collection of Windows PCs linked together for nefarious purposes? Some teen-aged geek with no social life and a high-speed Internet connection? That is such a 1990s view. No, today, as Matt Watchinski, the senior director of the Vulnerability Research Team for network security provider Sourcefire, said, “Cybercrime is a big business and anyone interested in making money illegally can run them, no matter what your skill level is.”

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