Is organized crime controlling your Windows PC?

“A rise in attacks for financial gain, as opposed to attacks motivated by the creator’s desire to gain notoriety, is a disturbing trend noted in Symantec’s latest report on Internet security. Symantec is a leading provider of antivirus and PC security software,” Samantha Perry reports for Computing South Africa. “The people behind these types of attacks, says Symantec Africa regional manager Patrick Evans, are well-funded, organized crime groups that use networks of bots to obtain financial information for their own gain. ‘It is not just script kiddies anymore,’ he says, ‘although they are still there.’ Bots, Evans explains, are installed on vulnerable PCs and can be remotely controlled. A further implication of such control is that code can be updated on the fly, rendering antivirus software useless in a matter of seconds.”

“‘Bot networks are the favored mechanism of organized crime syndicates to gather financial data,’ Evans says. The latest report notes that there has been an enormous increase in the number of IP addresses associated with bot networks–from an average of 2000 per day from June through December last year, to an average of 34,000 per day in June of this year, with a peak of 75,000 per day in March 2004,” Perry reports.

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Some might say that as long as your operating system is from Microsoft…

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USA Today: people are switching from Windows to Mac because of security issues – September 21, 2004
The Motley Fool: Windows viruses, Apple iPod’s ‘Halo Effect’ may drive switch from Windows to Mac OS X – September 21, 2004
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  1. I feel pretty safe about my computer (Mac OSX os), but what about my financial information residing on Windows PC’s of companies I transact with? Wouldn’t this info be vulnerable?

  2. Doesn’t it make you wonder why such a huge company with vast amounts of money and the best programmers on the planet STILL is unable to make their OS leakproof after 10 years? It is as if they open 2 holes for every one they close.

    Could such a huge staff of professional programmers be so collectively stupid as to create an OS that can be compromised by high school kids or brand new viruses created by simple HTML code?

    Could there be a real reason behind this?
    – Perhaps it keeps millions of IT staff employed?
    – Perhaps some sort of under-the-table profits being make via advertising, virus protection software companies, and other (mob?) companies?
    – Perhaps hardware companies making money on service calls (most are OS problems NOT hardware problems)?

    The Windows fix-it industry is far larger than Microsoft itself; it has become an entire market unto itself. If Microsoft were to make a much more secure and stable OS, what would happen to all of these billions of dollars? It is very scary to think that the corporations being financially raped by Microsoft’s apparent ineptitude could put that money into real research and development of USEFUL goods and services.

    This is not unlike the bedfellow relationship between the auto manufacturers and the oil companies. You know vehicles can be easily made that can travel over 100 miles per gallon, but this would create an oil surplus and the cost of gasoline would drop to less than $1.00 per gallon. Gas would cost less and you’d buy less of it, thus severely endangering the oil CEOs ability to buy a larger private plane next year.

    Microsoft is very similar. They know that the real money is not in making toilets, but in making toilet paper; something that needs to be replaced, something that needs constant attention requiring numerous other people.

    Apple is able to do it through the introduction of innovative products replacing the older ones. Microsoft is not so blessed with that level of imagination, so they settle for the lower route of creating products with inherent flaws that need constant mending. Besides, it is quicker and results in greater revenue for Microsoft, regardless how much money is stolen from other sectors.

  3. r8ix:

    To convict Microsoft in a criminal court of aiding and abetting would require that one prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Microsoft acted complicity with the mob.

    However, Microsoft may be held liable for punitive damages in a civil court, provided that Microsoft is found guilty of reckless disregard or gross negligence after showing that Microsoft knew that people�s computers with Windows were vulnerable to criminal mischief and did not act in a reasonable manner to prevent Windows from being used by the mob.

    Key word is “reasonable”.

  4. Aryugaetu, it’s not a vast plot. It’s quite simple: there is no financial gain made by Microsoft if they make their software better, or safer. Everyone buys it, no matter what, so why spend some of that vast bank account on improving the product? It just doesn’t make financial sense.

  5. MikeMo,

    Doesn’t Microsoft make money in the training of Microsoft Certified IT Weenies? Didn’t they make money from the many bug fix releases since Win 3.1?

    If they released a secure, bug free OS would they ever sell another update?

    Of course it is a conspiracy.

  6. The minute Microsoft gets ahold of something innovation and improvement pretty much stop. They only do what is necessary to milk more money. Look at Internet Explorer. Monopolies are really bad for the consumer. Can’t all the windows lemmings see this? You would think that they would opt for other than microsoft products more often just for that reason alone.

  7. meat of moose: although RICO was originally intended to go after “organized crime” in the 70s (I think), it’s been used for many other purposes recently. One of the biggest RICO suits is the suit by medical associations all over the country against insurance companies who have “systematically and maliciously” through “deceptive practices” defrauded doctors.

    I think RICO will apply very well in MS’ case. I’ve always wondered why the lawyers have not ferreted out that trail of money yet.

  8. chrononh:

    I disagree. Microsoft did not commit these crime. Microsoft only developed an OS that permitted selfish people to satisfy their criminal desires and Microsoft did not receive any financial benefit from their criminal activities. Had Microsoft advertised that Windows was secure and could not be used �systematically and maliciously” for these crimes then Microsoft may be held liable for deceptive and misleading advertising and be made to pay for damages in civil court.

    However ineffectual Microsoft is in developing a more secure OS its �enduring struggle� will be portrayed as a valiant and noble effort to thwart the world�s criminal elements. Besides, Microsoft could always say that Windows users could use Linux or buy a Mac and this would solve the problem well enough. So, you see, it�s not Microsoft that is the problem it�s the multi-million dopy PC users running Windows that are the real problem. If it weren�t for these dopy Windows users Microsoft could bask in security by obscurity.

  9. You know vehicles can be easily made that can travel over 100 miles per gallon, but this would create an oil surplus and the cost of gasoline would drop to less than $1.00 per gallon.

    What would they be, mopeds? Can you explain further?

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