Its bad enough that the humans—if you can call them that—who create viruses and malware are trying to turn our desktops into instruments of their global evildoing. But do they also have to insult our intelligence?
Heres a sample of the e-mails Ive been getting over the past few days, dozens of them in several flavors, all with a 98-byte Zip file, all from people who supposedly exist in my domain, all trying to take advantage of anyone uninformed/gullible/stupid enough to try opening the attachment. You may be getting them as well.
This column is an open letter to the community of people who create viruses, hoping they can improve the quality of their work. Its not that I want better viruses and malware, as I am sure that will happen with no encouragement from me.
I am not sure what bugs me most: that these clowns think they can spoof people with nonsense like this or that they manage to get away with it. Dont criminals owe it to their intended victims not to insult their intelligence while trying to take over their computers?
But shouldnt users also have enough sense not to open the files attached to this garbage? A 98-byte Zip file “for security reasons”?
I wish it were possible to respond with a “Nice try!” and have these messages stop. Instead, they manage to sneak through the anti-spam defense I am using, meaning I must delete them one by one. But before I can delete such a message, it opens in the reading pane, so I must stare at these messages again and again. Or turn off the reading pane, but that just adds to how long it takes to get rid of the messages.
I am also writing to the amateur hackers (as opposed to processional criminals) to issue a warning: We are rapidly approaching a point at which authorities will take any attack, regardless of why it was launched or by whom, as a major threat worthy of the most aggressive enforcement and prosecution. Hacking is about to be thrown in with terrorism, regardless of the actual intent of the perpetrator.
Those who create evil hacks for fun need to understand they are about to be thrown in with people of another sort entirely. And when this happens these amateurs will provide the enhanced criminal justice system its first red meat.
Viruses and malware can keep computers from benefiting people who need them. Should Botswana, for example, have to invest its meager resources in all sorts of security stuff because some loser with no life and a hacker book wants to prove himself by releasing a virus? Thats not hurting Microsoft; thats keeping computers away from people who need them.
My hope is that a little peer pressure can be exerted. That the people in this for the fun and prank value can be separated from the truly evil people and that the overall volume of malware, viruses and other threats can be turned down quite a bit. But I wont hold my breath.