The November 20, 2006 article "Spam surge linked to hackers" from eWeeks is a must read. Unfortunately, I can't find the actual online version of the article in print.
The article discusses the increasing complexity hackers are using botnets running on tens of thousands of hijacked Windows computers to spread spam. The article focuses on the research by SecureWorks regarding the malware trojan called Troj/SpamThru. Some scary unique features have been identified with this trojan including:
- Peer to Peer Communication (hackers can have control without a server)
- Anti-Virus Scanning (Uses anti-virus software to scan against rivals)
- Template-based spam
- Almost half of the PCs infected are PCs with Windows XP SP2 installed (outside of Vista, Microsoft's most secure Windows system to date).
Do I bring this up because I don't like Microsoft products? Not at all and in fact as I write this post I'm using a Windows XP system. My point is that if you plan on using Windows XP do all of us a favor and be sure you've installed on your PC the latest software updates and security patches available.
Shame on you if you are still using an older and even less secure Windows system such as 98, ME, 2000, XP, XP SP1. If you aren't running a firewall and/or anti-virus software with your Windows system because of "performance issues"...either get yourself some new hardware or consider loading an alternative operating system such as Linux.
Above all, start practicing safe computing. I don't want to hear any excuses why you're not...