Crooks and the Net

By Deane Barker on October 21, 2004

Crooks slither into Net’s shady nooks and crannies: This is comforting. In other news, the sky will fall today.

Organized crime rings and petty thieves are flocking to the Internet like start-ups in the go-go ’90s, federal authorities say — establishing a multibillion-dollar underground economy in just a few years.

[…] Criminals shop on illicit computer bulletin boards for stolen credit card numbers as they would for books on They threaten devastating electronic attacks on Web sites unless they are paid. Online bank accounts are under siege. And millions of hijacked computers, or zombies — infected with malicious code under the control of a hacker without the owner’s knowledge — perpetrate the schemes without a trail.



  1. I just liberated my sister-in-law’s computer from the zombie army last weekend. She had at least 3 viruses, and Ad-Aware found 800+ spyware modules. She couldn’t figure out why her web browsing was slow. Her computer was sending so much spam, she couldn’t even pull down a web page. Incredible.

  2. I was reading the other day that one in five calls to Dell tech support is due to spyware. Eight hundred items in Ad-Aware would be a new record for me. I’ve seen 600 before (exclusive of tracking cookies, which really don’t count).

    It’s really more than an annoyance. At a certain point, spyware destroys computers. I have a machine in here from one of the employees that has been totally obliterated by spyware. It is utterly unusable. I don’t think there’s an actual virus, but there’s just so…much…stuff.

    The biggest indicator of if you’re going to have a problem? How old your kids are. Let a 9 to 15-year-old loose on a PC and a broadband connection, and your computer will die, it’s just a matter of time.

    (Oh wait, the actual biggest indicator is if you have a Windows PC. If you have a Mac, you’re in much better shape.)

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