Phil Wainewright writes about the side-effects of the virus-worm that infected so many computers in the past week:
It turns out the SoBig virus is actually a front for a malevolent new twist in grid computing anonymous utility spamming. The virus, which spread through the world’s email inboxes like wildfire last week, is “designed to load special software that can anonymize spam onto people’s PCs,”according to security experts interviewed in this CNET story.
Once in place, this secret software payload can then be triggered to send out emails that give no hint of their true origin, since they can only be traced back to the machine playing innocent host to the trojan software. Security experts theorize that SoBig’s author is offering this on-demand anonymity service to unscrupulous bulk emailers, thus becoming the first hacker to have successfully monetized an email virus initiative.
If the experts are right, SoBig probably also qualifies as the first profitable, mass-market, commercial application of the principles of grid computing. It cleverly exploits the loosely coupled characteristics of a highly distributed, massively redundant grid architecture. Especially impressive is the utility provisioning mechanism that supplies new reserves of raw power to the SoBig grid, instantly able to draw on the never-ending supply of imprudent users whose curiosity about the contents of a suspicious attachment will always override their caution.
Innovation and creative thinking seems to be alive, albeit for the wrong purpose!