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Botnets and spyare

“It outta be illegal” is the first thing I usually hear as I start the long process of sanitizing a spyware infested windows machine. The fact is some parts of it ARE, some are just ethically questionable. The area that’s against the law is the part that involves tacking control of someone elses computer without their permission, either manually or in an automated way (exploiting a vulnerability to install a trojan or bot.) Today Brian Krebs is reporting on The connection between botnets and spyware at the securityfix.


Basically, the FBI has charged a 20 year old Los Angeles man with using a virus to infect 400,000 machines and then used that group of machines to install spyware. (Apparently adware networks have distributorship agreements by which an aspiring entreprenour…. or cracker can agree to distribute the adware to broaden the user base.) Some will do this legitimately, but hackers like the young man charged in this break the law by cracking into PC’s to install the adware. Then legit distributor or not, they can get paid for increasing the install base.

Apparently not too long ago 180solutions (in my experience a notorious adware company…) accused 7 distributors of using botnets to install their software in a similar way.

I suspect for some time adware companies have looked the other way on this, being more concerned about how many users they get than how they get them. However, maybe (we can hope) that companies like 180solutions are trying to clean up their image by cracking down on the outright illegal practice of using computer vulnerabilities to install adware.


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Posted by on November 4, 2005.

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Categories: Computers, Security, Spyware, Viruses

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