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Spammers, beware - organised criminals are positioning themselves to take a slice of your business.

Virus writing - once the sole province of hooligans - has edged itself into the arena of organised crime with viruses like Sobig-F that are capable of setting up a spam-sending proxy network.

According to Eugene Kaspersky, head of anti-virus research at Kaspersky Labs, criminal interest in spamming is growing with the advent of forthcoming laws that make spamming illegal.

"If you hava a profitable, illegal business sooner or later you will pay taxes to the Mafia," said Kaspersky.

"We're seeing a joining of the virus, hacker and spam scenes under the aegis of organised crime."

Kaspersky reckons that if organised criminals take control of spamming then there might actually be fewer spammers and virus writers in operation. However, attacks, when they did happen, could be even more ferocious.

Kaspersky doesn't have much by way of evidence to back up his theory, expounded during a press event last week at his company's Moscow headquarters. Instead of hard facts we have an unspecific warning to members of the computer underground that the Mafia was on their tail.

Quizzed on the possibility of criminals taking over anti-virus and anti-spam companies, Kaspersky argued this was highly unlikely. "The mafia needs effective anti-virus and anti-spam too," he said. ®

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