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Spyware attacks unsuspecting computer users

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Posted: Monday, April 5, 2010 11:00 pm

I need to apologize to the guy in the cool looking blue Mustang convertible at the corner of Piedmont and 48th streets the other day. I truly was not calling you an idiot, but rather someone on the radio, really! I can appreciate why you may have had an uncontrollable spasm in your hand as a response to what you thought I had directed toward you but, honest, it was the radio.

OK. I feel better now, but the fact is; I talk to the radio and TV, Facebook, Twitter and pretty much anyone else who will listen. I think everyone does, right? Come on now. Admit it! We sometimes yell at the radio or TV when we hear something that is simply preposterous or that is just not correct. I do anyway.

On the other side of the coin, when I read something that is absolutely spot on; I have to sing the praises of that as well. Such is the case with an article one of my clients sent me the other day about a company called Innovative Marketing. Never heard of them? Oh, I think you may have.

Have you ever seen those insidious pop-ups that tell you your computer is infected with a virus and you need to click on a button to remove it? That is Innovative Marketing! In an article written by Jim Finkle for Reuters (http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE62N29T20100324), Finkle explains how Innovative Marketing started from humble beginnings and is now one of the premier players in Internet marketing. It is the company responsible for the Ransomeware Anti-Virus 2009, Anti-Virus 2010, Security Center and any number of other spyware attacks on unsuspecting computer users. This spyware stops all Internet traffic except to their Web site, where you pay $50, $60, $70 or more to “remove” the spyware. In reality, they are not concerned about getting money from you right now but, instead, want your credit card information so it can be sold. They also want to infect your computer with hidden “back doors” that can be accessed at will for other nefarious purposes.

Innovative Marketing may not be the ones who put all this trash on the Internet but they are the ones who write the code for those people who put the trash in the Internet. Other unscrupulous Internet marketers are using Innovative Marketing software to make millions of dollars each year at the expense of unsuspecting computer users.

The article cited how companies contact Innovative Marketing, pay them and receive their software all via the Internet using money transaction Web sites that do not divulge anyone’s identity so all of this is done in secrecy.

Why doesn’t the federal government go get these guys? It is not that easy. You see Innovative Marketing is located in Kiev in the Ukraine and their customers, the ones who are using the software, can be located anywhere in the world to include offshore boats, protected islands, anywhere. The U.S. does not have any jurisdiction on most anything that happens outside of our borders so our policing powers are like Superman on Kryptonite. We have no power to do much of anything but put pressure on other countries to help enforce actions we deem as necessary.

This is truly a fascinating article I highly recommend to anyone and everyone. In the meantime, if you do get infected, call a reputable computer repair company who you trust. They should be able to get rid of this without losing any of your data and at a reasonable cost. As of this writing, these spyware attacks are not terminable for your computer so get it fixed and not replaced.

To the guy in the Mustang, you know you have done the same thing a million times. You just never got caught.


Mike Smothers is president of Smothers Computer Services and lives in Ahwatukee Foothills. Send questions to mike@smotherscomputers.com or call (480) 753-7667.

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