Of all the sinister things that Internet viruses do, this might be the worst: They can make you an unsuspecting collector of child pornography. Heinous pictures and videos can be deposited on computers by viruses — the malicious programs better known for swiping your credit card numbers. In this twist, it's your reputation that's stolen.
Pedophiles can exploit virus-infected PCs to remotely store and view their stash without fear they'll get caught. Pranksters or someone trying to frame you can tap viruses to make it appear that you surf illegal Web sites.
Researchers with BitDefender are tracking the emergence of a new spate of phony overnight delivery notice attacks, calling out a set of threats currently in circulation that attempt to create backdoors that leave affected machines almost completely under the control of their assailants.
Since the earliest days of the Internet, people have tried to hack their way into the computers of others. Even as hacking has grown from a way for geeks to impress each other to a means for criminals to steal and blackmail, the strategy for computer security has remained largely the same: Companies and consumers erect the thickest walls they can around computers so the bad guys can't get in.
Now security experts, realizing they're losing the battle, are ready to try a new approach. They plan to recruit victims and other computer users to help them go on the offensive and hunt down the hackers. "It's time to stop building burglar alarms to keep people out and go after the bad guys," says Rowan Trollope, senior vice-president for consumer products at Symantec, the largest maker of antivirus software.
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