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Greed likely motive of 'SoBig' computer virus

Computer security experts and law enforcement officials are struggling to understand the motives of a mysterious software author who appears intent on prying open many of the electronic locks on the Internet. . The malicious program known as SoBig, which is transmitted as an e-mail attachment and then resends itself widely via the Internet, is actually the sixth variant in an apparent experiment by unknown attackers. During the past eight months the author or authors have tried to implant secret tools for stealing information and sending unsolicited commercial e-mail messages, or spam, according to security experts. . One possibility now being discussed is that the program is an attempt to create software engines for sending spam by using unprotected computers that have been surreptitiously commandeered by the virus. Access to such computers could then be sold to e-mail marketing companies. “I think the motivation is clear – it’s money,” said Mikko Hypponen, director of antivirus research at F-Secure, a computer security firm that is based in Helsinki and is decoding the illicit program. “Behind SoBig we have a group of hackers who have a budget and money.” . Whatever the motive, the writer of the rogue program appears to be engaged in a dark game with antivirus companies, repeatedly eluding their defenses with ever more virulent adaptations. In the case of four of the six programs, a new version was launched immediately after the self-timed expiration date of the preceding program.Full Story

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