Irish PCs being hijacked to relay spam


3 Oct 2006

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PCs sitting on broadband networks in Ireland and the UK have emerged among the major sources of email spam, new research from IE Internet has revealed.

The owners of these PCs are unaware their machines, otherwise known as ‘Typhoid Mary’ PCs, are being used.

Ken O’Driscoll, chief technology officer with IE Internet, told siliconrepublic.com that the research has identified several unique sources of viruses and in some cases spam that have been circulating for over a month.

“These PCs are located on Irish and UK broadband networks. We believe that these ‘Typhoid Mary’ PCs have been operating without their users’ knowledge as major virus sources.

“IE Internet will, over the next few weeks, attempt to encourage the operators of these networks to clean their PCs,” O’Driscoll said.

O’Driscoll said that for the third time this year, spam levels have exceeded the 50pc mark of all email in circulation.

This, he says, is due to the ever-increasing effectiveness of bot networks (bot-nets) as delivery mechanisms.

“By the time the bot-net is detected and shut down, the spam has been delivered.

“Bot-nets are expendable and the capital outlay consists only of paying the owner of the bot-net. The owners of the infected machines and their ISPs effectively pay for the hardware and bandwidth,” O’Driscoll said.

In terms of viruses on the loose, O’Driscoll said that virus levels are slowly decreasing. The top viruses in circulation are the same ones that have been hanging about for the last two years — Zafi.B and Netsky.P — which were discovered in 2004 and exploit now long-patched security problems.

By John Kennedy