RealNews

Hackers hijack computers remotely in new surge of spam

The Flint Hills School, a prep academy in Oakton, Va., might seem an unlikely place to find an Internet spammer. But late last year, technicians at America Online were able to trace the origin of a new torrent of spam, or unsolicited e-mail advertisements, to the school’s computer network. On further investigation, though, AOL determined that the spammers were not enterprising students or moonlighting teachers. Instead, a spam-flinging hacker — who still has not been found — had exploited a software vulnerability to use the school’s computers to relay spam while hiding the e-mail’s true origins. It was not an isolated incident. As spam has proliferated — and with it the attempts by big Internet providers to block messages sent from the addresses of known spammers — many mass e-mailers have become more clever in avoiding the blockades by aggressively bouncing messages off the computers of unaware third parties. Full Story

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