If there were any doubt the underworld of malware and the universe of legitimate software were converging, it was dispelled last week, after researchers at Symantec uncovered a malware EULA (written in Russian) that was more restrictive than the kind of thing Microsoft puts out. According to the Associated Press report, the botnet software had the following restrictions:
The customer can't resell the product, examine its underlying coding, use it to control other bot nets or submit it to antivirus companies and agrees to pay the seller a fee for product updates....The threat: Violate the terms, and we'll report you ourselves to the antivirus companies by giving them information about how to dismantle your bot network or prevent it from growing bigger.
In other words, steal our software and we're going to run and tell Mommy--err, McAfee. Kinda funny that the hackers are the among the few parties who still believe anti-virus software is effective. I don't know any security wonks who do.
It's yet another candidate for Andy Brandt's entertaining series on Stupid Hacker Tricks. Which puts me in mind of other stupid hacker tricks -- the ones committed by legitimate companies. Sony's CD Root Kit is a classic example of a large mainstream firm using black hat techniques against its own customers. Microsoft's secret WGA installation is another example of a Big Public Company pulling tricks out of the hacker's handbag. Even Apple's less-than-forthright attempt to sneak Safari onto Windows PCs borders comes pretty close, at least according to Mozilla CEO John Lilly.
I'm sure there are others, but they're slipping through my brain. What other companies have been pulling their own stupid hacker tricks?
In other news: Speaking of slippery brains, leave it to Cringe to get his facts wrong about Lord of the Rings. Several Cringesters wrote in to correct my clear lack of understanding of all things Ringian. Reader S. O., whose email sig indicates he works in a 'scent reduced workplace', reduces the issue to its essentials:
In the Lord of the Rings movie it is Saruman who is shown ordering the goblins to sharpen the weapons and dig up the Orcs. As such he is trying to rid the world of the men of Rohan. In the end, some elves arrive to help at Helm's Deep.
Meanwhile, reader D.H. serves up his own slice of geeky snark:
Robert, are you aware that Frodo returned to the Shire to become their CIO, where he promptly installed a "Tolkien" ring?