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Anti-virus companies: tenacious spammers

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Opinion No one can argue that the spam problem is getting better. Despite advances in anti-spam technology and legislation against spam, unwanted junk mail is flowing into our inboxes at an increased rate. Stock tips, enhancement drugs, Nigerian scams, DVD copy software and hundreds of other products or services get shoved in our face.

For roughly three years, the Internet has seen worms that spread via e-mail, often taking addresses out of the infected machine's web cache, user addressbook or other sources. Some of these worms will also forge/spoof the "From:" line so the mail appears to be from someone else, in an attempt to make the mail more 'trusted'. To be clear:

Spam is basically defined as "unsolicited junk email". Unsolicited, as in you did not request the person/company to send you mail. Junk, as in it contains no valuable content or information. When an anti-virus program from a remote system mails you out of the blue, tells you that it blocked a virus YOU sent, tells you that you are likely infected with a virus and advertises itself, the remote site is sending you spam.

In the case of the latest worm, myself and others have received more spam from Anti-Virus products than the worm itself! As you read this, Anti-Virus companies are responsible for products that are sending out more unwanted mail than the worm itself. The most damning mail from these products not only purport to "warn you of infection", but they go so far as to advertise the product to you. This is unsolicited commercial e-mail (UCE, aka "spam") in its purest form.

© Copyright 2004 Attrition.org

You want more? Then pop over to the full-length version of this article, where Brian provides examples and names the offenders

Brian Martin is an indenpendent security consultant who lives in Denver.

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