Stories by Scott Berinato

The booming hacking business

It's a good time to be a malicious hacker. That's because even though it's not a time of revolutionary new techniques in hacking for profit, business is booming for the established methods. Despite increased investment in information security defenses, the good guys continue to lag badly behind. According to one report by Sophos, which called the recent uptick in ­malware a "deluge," by April 2007, more than 250,000 websites were hosting malicious code and more than 8,000 were being added to that total every day.

Here comes image spam

Image spam--e-mail solicitations that use graphical images of text--is not new. But its rising sophistication has made much of it invisible to spam filters so that it makes up one-third of all spam, according to Doug Bowers, director of antiabuse engineering at Symantec. E-mail traffic--83 percent of which was spam--rose in 2006, according to antispam company BorderWare, and researchers there expect image spam to grow.

The chilling effect

Last February at Purdue University, a student taking "cs390s - Secure Computing" told his professor, Dr. Pascal Meunier, that a Web application he used for his physics class seemed to contain a serious vulnerability that made the app highly insecure. Such a discovery didn't surprise Meunier. "It's a secure computing class; naturally students want to discover vulnerabilities."