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Secret War on Web Crooks Revealed

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Three times a year, leaders from the world's major technology and communications companies meet to discuss strategies for preventing the Internet from becoming overrun with attacks, spam, viruses, and hackers, though the specifics of these meetings is often kept secret. "Some people might get nervous if they knew all the things we talked about," says Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group (MAAWG) chairman Michael O'Rierdan. "It's our job to make the Internet safe, but we don't want to put people off using the Web." MAAWG participants also are nervous about being targeted by the criminals they are trying to stop.

Most of the spam and hacking online is now perpetrated by organized crime. Within the United States, retaliation against MAAWG generally comes in the form of lawsuits, but in other countries organized criminals in Russia and the Ukraine use more violent methods. MAAWG founder Steve Linford has been advised by the police not to open any unexpected packages.

The MAAWG conferences attract approximately 270 delegates from 19 countries, and although the press has usually been kept out of the conferences, that trend is starting to change as participants feel the industry needs to reach out to consumers and get them to help fight spam and cybercrime. Nearly 90 percent of spam is sent from computers that have been hacked and are remotely programmed to send spam. More than 9.4 million computers have been hijacked for this purpose, and cleaning up all of these machines will be impossible without the public's help.

From The Financial Times
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Abstracts Copyright © 2009 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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