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Viruses, SPAM and the Russian Mafia

If this were a round of Jeopardy! the answer would be “What do most Windows computers have in common?” Wait, did you read that right? Yes, you did. Most Windows computers have viruses, SPAM and the Russian Mafia in common.

Why, you say?

Most Windows computers have now or have had at least one virus, with many having more than just one. Many of those virus-infected Windows computers are part of a zombie network that is used to send out SPAM emails daily. Most viruses used to “zombie-fy” all those Windows computers are written and deployed by the Russian mafia.

SPAM—SPAM is any unwanted piece of email, usually an advertisement trying to sell you a $20 iPad, Ultra Long-Lasting Viagra or Super Colossal Penis Enlargement. I see hundreds of these emails in my Junk mailbox all the time and I’m sure you do too. They keep coming because SOMEbody, SOMEwhere keeps buying that stuff. (If it’s you, please stop!)

About seven years ago, most major ISPs (Internet Service Providers such as Comcast, AT&T, Charter, etc.) started cracking down on email accounts that were sending out hundreds and sometimes thousands of emails per day, in other words, the obvious Spammers. But because SPAM is such a lucrative business the Spammers scurried around for a bit until they found a new way to send out all those emails every day, virtually undetectable by the ISPs. They learned that if they could take control of YOUR computer, and hundreds of thousands of your family and friends’ computers, that they could send 5 or 10 emails per day, from ALL those computers, and thus never raise any “excessive email” flags at the ISP offices.

Virus—A virus is any piece of software that self-propagates, meaning one of the first things it does on your computer is to create copies of itself and spread itself to other computers and also to try to avoid detection on the infected computer. Once the virus—and I mean the zombie net, SPAM-spreading virus now—once it’s nestled in your computer’s hard drive, it “phones home” to the computer that has been designated as its control computer. It announces, “Mission Accomplished! We have control of this person’s computer. Send me SPAM when you’re ready and I will send out a few every day and let the good times roll!”

The Russian Mafia—It is believed that the Russian mafia is one of the largest employers of virus-writing computer nerds. Like any other illegal activity, there’s easy money to be made and the Russians, along with other criminals in other countries, including, I’m sure, the US, are all over it. Because on the internet it matters not where you’re located geographically, they realized they could set up shop anywhere and sell access to hundreds of thousands of zombie PCs to companies that wanted to advertise via SPAM. And apparently this is a lucrative business and they’re doing well at it.

To throw a little bit of intrigue into this story, it’s also been suggested that China along with Russia is a hotbed for these sorts of internet bad guys. Supposedly, the Russian and Chinese governments turn a blind eye to this activity, possibly because they sometimes use the services of the virus writers to help them gain access to other countries’ computers for a little bit of spying.

Of course, this is all speculation. But there you have it. Viruses exist because SPAM works and there’s big money in it. So if you and everyone else on the planet would just stop enlarging your penises we wouldn’t have any more computer viruses or SPAM.

Or not.

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About the Author

Patrick Clark, owner of The Boro Mac Shop here in Murfreesboro, has repaired Macintosh computers and Apple devices since 1996 and The Boro Mac Shop is Murfreesboro’s best Macintosh, iPad, and iPhone repair shop. Contact him at (615) 796-6154 or boromac.com/.

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