I’m currently enrolled in a distance learning Windows security class. There is a lot of useful information about how to manage and protect Windows systems. But they also throw in some interesting descriptions of the current state of the environment we need to protect ourselves against.
In just the past year the hacking service economy has been made available and is quite popular. The Russian mafia seems to be very entrepreneurial in this area. Let’s say your ex-spouse runs a website and you’re thinking its payback time. You contact the right person electronically and arrange to rent a botnet. You pay via Paypal. You get access to 4000 PCs that will do your bidding. You are given access to a website that gives you a control panel to manage these 4000 PCs. You make your selections that will cause these 4000 PCs to swamp your ex-spouse’s website with garbage information, which basically shuts it down. Your ex loses their job, and life is good.
This new kind of service is so popular that it is sure to be offered by other “vendors”. Have a look at this site from Harvard Business Publishing (conversationstarter.hbsp.com/2008/02/the_cybercrime_service_economy.html).
This is what is happening on the other side when your PC gets infected. You may become one of those 4000 PCs in that botnet. So keep your Windows updates current, run antivirus and antispyware, be very suspicious about clicking on unknown links and unsolicited email. As usual this note can also be found at the Montana Bibliotechies Blog (mtbibliotechie.blogspot.com).