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Study Links Storm Botnet's Growth To Illegal Drugs 207 207

talkinsecurity writes "Researchers at IronPort today published a study which claims to have found the 'smoking gun' that links the rapid growth of the Storm botnet to spammers that sell prescription drugs illegally over the Internet. The study shows that more than 80 percent of Storm-generated spam is advertising online pharmacy brands, and further investigation showed that spam templates, credit card processing, product fulfillment and customer support are all being provided by a 'Russian criminal organization' that operates in conjunction with Storm. This criminal organization recruits botnet spamming partners to advertise their illegal pharmacy Websites, which receive a 40 percent commission on sales orders. IronPort went as far as to do pharmacological testing on the products, and found that two-thirds of the drugs contained the wrong dosage of the active ingredient, and the rest were placebos."
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Study Links Storm Botnet's Growth To Illegal Drugs

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  • Re:It's True (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @12:45PM (#23749925)
    what a horrible headline.

    we have enough problems with people confusing hackers with crackers (etc); we have the ever-present 'war on drugs' (that will NEVER end; see the book '1984' and its view on why a continual war on 'something' is always good for the gov.).

    but this is NOT about 'illegal drugs'; its about the LEGAL ones that do many of the same things the 'illegal ones' do but have congress supporting them. the problem is, the 'legal drugs' are outrageously priced (compared to the true selling price that the rest of the world tends to get) and so OF COURSE people on limited income (that's most of us, btw) can't afford the artificially high (heh) drug prices.

    THAT is the problem to solve. make drugs affordable and there will be NO MORE 'online pharms'.

    but why *solve* the root-cause problem? its not the american way anymore (sadly) ;(

    at any rate, this is not about 'illegal drugs'. what they are selling may or may not be quality; but the compounds you are buying are NOT illegal!

    for once, lets tie spam to the LEGAL otc drugs. tell it how it is - that by the large-scale addiction we create on so-called legal drugs, we have forced people to go around the very expensive system and find other ways to get their 'legal fix'.

    you have to look at the magnitude of how evil the 2 sides are. arguably if the health care system was WORKING, we wouldn't have a market for 'affordable' prescription drugs.

    fix the real problem and the ancillary one will fix itself.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @01:25PM (#23750723)

    I know I, for one, would rather not have people in public that are doped up on morphine/vicodin/valium.


    And why is this? I worked for many months on med-high (recreational) doses codeine (an opiate) and diazepam, and I probably worked better on them than I do now I'm off of them.

    Does other people getting "high" bother you? Have you ever taken any of the drugs that you've mentioned?
  • Re:It's True (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @01:29PM (#23750809)
    Yes, most everything we get prescribed we could grow illegally or legally at home, but THEY don't want you to know. With the opium poppy, lemon mold, and handful of other plants you would have most prescription drugs covered. Many of the newer patented drugs come from plants as well.
    But the governments all over the world have made cultivation of those life-saving plants illegal and they exterminate the poor plants even in countries where they are native to.
    The only explanation is that all countries get a lot of money from drug dealers. Either that or the people governing us are complete retards.
  • by JK_the_Slacker (1175625) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @01:36PM (#23750933) Homepage

    Not likely. Spam is not about filling a need in the market, it's about greed. An "easy" way to make money. As an advertising model, spam itself doesn't stop being profitable just because the advertised product stops being profitable. Should the illegal pharmacists stop funding the spam, someone else will start. Way to miss the issue, friend.

  • by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @01:44PM (#23751101) Journal
    I know I, for one, would rather not have people in public that are doped up on morphine/vicodin/valium.

    Tough. People already use drugs, they will always use drugs. Chances are you know an opiate addict and don't even know it.

    And yes, advocating the imprisonment of people for something as benign as cannabis is very nazi-ish. I smoke pot every day. I also work full time, pay my bills, and generally contribute positively to society. I don't hurt people, I don't steal, etc. If you would assault and kidnap (arrest and imprison) me just for kicking back with a bowl after work, then *you* are the dangerous one.
  • by sm62704 (957197) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @01:47PM (#23751179) Journal
    There is one class of drugs I would like to remain illegal, and that's antibiotics. It's bad enough that ill informed mommies take junior to the doctor when he has a virus and demands an antibiotic (doc, give 'em placebo).

    But if you make antibiotics over-the-counter it won't be long before none of them work. Even needing a prescription for such drugs there are already way too many sntibiotic-resistant bacteria.

    You should have the right to fuck your life up any way you want, but you damned sure shouldn't have the right to fuck mine up by making antibiotics useless. Legalizing them would do just that.
  • Re:It's True (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pieisgood (841871) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @02:08PM (#23751643) Journal
    Drug prices are expensive because it costs nearly 1 billion dollars to create one new drug. Each pharmaceutical must spend a billion dollars to push out ONE drug. This is why AIDS medications and others are so expensive. There are so little with this disease that it's hard to make 1 billion dollars back in the scope of the patent. Health care has nothing to do with how expensive drugs are, the FDA actually does. They require such stringent research on medications (this includes years of human trials) that it's literally impossible to create a new cheap drug.
  • by damn_registrars (1103043) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @02:12PM (#23751753) Homepage Journal

    If you would assault and kidnap (arrest and imprison) me just for kicking back with a bowl after work, then *you* are the dangerous one.

    When did I say arrest and imprison? How many people do you know who have been arrested just for using marijuana in a responsible manner?

    There are plenty of people who claim that cops go around kicking in doors and beating the hell out of people just for smoking pot in their homes. But yet there is almost no evidence of that happening to recreational users.

    The way that the laws are enforced for drugs are essentially the same as the way they are enforced for alcohol. Whether you chose to get drunk, stoned, or otherwise influenced by a substance, if you do it at home, your realistic chance of being arrested is zero. On the other hand, if you chose to do it at home, and then proceed out in public where your choices pose a potential danger to society, then your chances of being arrested climb dramatically.

    Which is why I support leaving the laws alone.
  • They are illegal (Score:3, Insightful)

    by phorm (591458) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @02:32PM (#23752147) Journal
    Selling placebos as the real thing, or drugs that may contain the real thing (but in doses that are dangerous) is still illegal.

    While the actual pills may not contain a substance that is "illegal", the manner in which they are presented is. Kinda like how alcohol is legal, but it can only be sold under certain conditions (and not to minors, etc).
  • Caveat Emptor... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BoRegardless (721219) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @02:39PM (#23752261)
    Applies not only to anyone using a personal computer, but to companies, ICANN & others who "oversee" the Internet structure who should have been creating new structures to prevent these sort of things proliferating. It is not just drugs but a never-ending blast of promos. It is not like we haven't seen this coming for years. Where are the responsible ISPs, who should literally shut off any personal computer that is sending spam? Doing that alone, and dialing out China, Russia and others on email programs would severely limit the ability of these nogoods to do their work. Microsoft is part of the blame here. I still have a friend who's HP computer at home is buzzing with activity from a Bot (3 kids in the family), sometimes taking 70-80% of his CPU cycles. He knows he is infected. Why won't he reinstall the OS? He doesn't know how, and figures he would be in for days of work, and if he can't do it, he will just have to fork out for a new desktop. Intertia, fear, loathing, and no fear of retribution for running a bot compromised CPU are behind his activities. All the same things ICANN, Microsoft, ISPs, and others seem to have in abundance. Sheesh.
  • Re:It's True (Score:2, Insightful)

    by limaxray (1292094) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @02:46PM (#23752401) Homepage

    It's good to see someone understands why drugs cost what they do. While a billion dollars per drug may be a bit on the high side, it is not an exaggeration as bringing drugs to market in the US is INSANELY expensive. FDA requires very strict processes that take years to approve a new drug.

    This is further compounded by the fact that the amount of time a company has to earn a return on their investment is limited by the life of their patent. Once a patent expires, the drug goes generic and the company that originally produced it will never be able to compete with all the generic companies that do nothing more than synthesize low cost drugs. Furthermore, the life time of the patent includes the FDA approval process, so it's not unheard of for a drug to only have a few years remaining on its patent by the time it is approved.

    Finally, one needs to understand that for every popular allergy or ED medication that brings in big bucks, there are a number of not so common drugs that barely bring in anything. In fact, most major pharma companies produce a number of drugs that treat some disease that is so rare that they actually lose money on them. But hey, it's cool, hip, and trendy these days to ignore how things work and just blame everything on the evil elite few.

  • by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @02:54PM (#23752555) Journal

    When did I say arrest and imprison? How many people do you know who have been arrested just for using marijuana in a responsible manner?


    You said leaving the current laws alone. If I were to take a joint with me to the park and enjoy it during a picnic, I'd stand a very good chance of being assaulted by a police officer. Hell, if I were to enjoy a joint in my own damn backyard during a BBQ, I'd stand a very good chance of being assaulted.

    There are plenty of people who claim that cops go around kicking in doors and beating the hell out of people just for smoking pot in their homes. But yet there is almost no evidence of that happening to recreational users.

    No, I don't claim that at all. But they do randomly search cars for no reason. They do flyovers with a helicopter and infrared cameras to catch people growing. They do send police into concerts looking for pot smokers. Pot smokers are persecuted in this country, and they don't care if you're responsible or not.

    The way that the laws are enforced for drugs are essentially the same as the way they are enforced for alcohol.

    Have you noticed that you can go out to just about any restaurant and have yourself a cocktail? Try doing that with cannabis.

    Whether you chose to get drunk, stoned, or otherwise influenced by a substance, if you do it at home, your realistic chance of being arrested is zero.

    This is where you get a little twisted. You are relying on selective enforcement of the law to provide justice. The law itself should be just. Punish people who actually hurt people, not people who you think might hurt someone.

    What you are saying here is contrary to the principle of "innocent until proven guilty". It's worse even than "guilty until proven innocent". What you are saying here is that people who possess pot should be punished for a crime that hasn't been committed, and probably never will be committed. It's nothing less than advocating Pre-crime.

    Does that not sound just a little bit Nazi to you?

    On the other hand, if you chose to do it at home, and then proceed out in public where your choices pose a potential danger to society, then your chances of being arrested climb dramatically.

    Except that proceeding out into public with a little herb poses negligible danger to anyone.
  • by limaxray (1292094) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @03:16PM (#23752943) Homepage

    This isn't too uncommon, but it is pretty understandable. The DEA and other law enforcement agencies have thrown a number of doctors in jail for 'over prescribing' pain killers. Sure there are a number of instances where doctors do abuse their prescription writing powers, but even doctors who treat patients with legitimate chronic pain have been locked up.

    This has created a bit of a fear to prescribe such drugs, and now you'll find a lot of doctors reluctant to give these drugs even if they are the best option. It really is sad when what is or is not considered 'over prescribing' is decided by a bunch of cops and lawyers instead of doctors.

  • Re:It's True (Score:1, Insightful)

    by pieisgood (841871) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @03:29PM (#23753179) Journal
    That's because Canada ought right denies longer patents for pharmaceutical companies. If you really had the time to sit down and examine where the most useful drugs are produced you'd realize that generics don't actually do any drug research and are just parasites on the carcass of dead patents of real pharmaceutical companies. Phizer has done more good than any generic company when it released Lipitor (the most prescribed pill IN THE WORLD). Also, the fact of the matter is that you are being raped by your insurance company not the pharmaceuticals.
  • by Jekler (626699) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @03:51PM (#23753579)
    I agree with you that the claims by Iron Port are highly suspect. They determined online pharmacies have a 100% error rate? I know people who have ordered from online pharmacies, chemically tested their drugs, and got exactly what they ordered. Obviously I can only speak of the handful of incidents I'm aware of, so maybe the people I know just got real lucky.

    If online pharmacies screwed people 100% of the time, nobody at all would buy from them, because in a game like that the big money is in repeat orders. It wouldn't make any economic sense to score some petty cash with a bunch of first time orders when you can milk the same cow 100 times.

    I'm not advocating the use of these pharmacies, I just don't think Iron Port's report is credible. To believe them means that online pharmacies never ship the correct order, and anything which makes an "always" or "never" claim raises red flags and requires close scrutiny.
  • by khayman80 (824400) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @05:11PM (#23754797) Homepage Journal
    Agreed. There are many, MANY problems with prohibition, but this one is often overlooked. Namely, by engaging in ridiculous hyperbole about relatively innocuous drugs like marijuana, the government is destroying their own credibility. Most kids hear the DARE officers say that smoking weed will turn you into a crazy homeless bum who sucks dick for joints, and they immediately tune out all government officials because they're obviously not telling the truth.

    This is bad, because some of the things the government says about drugs are true. This due more to random statistics than diligent research, I'd say- if you make 1000 completely random statements, some of them are bound to be true simply by chance. For instance, meth, crack and heroin really do have a great addictive potential, and the ratio of the LD50 dose to the active dose is disturbingly small. Unfortunately, kids simply don't listen when they're told this, because cops say the same things about weed.

    Even worse, some kids actually buy into the propaganda. These are the kids who believe that illegal drugs are dangerous because they're illegal, so they huff paint cleaner and other "legal" drugs. These "legal" methods of getting high are actually more dangerous than heroin, but they don't carry the illegal stigma so kids don't see them as dangerous if they believe the drug prohibition propaganda.

    I'd much rather see all drugs be made legal- ALL of them. Then sell them at convenience stores to adults in packages with certain ratings on the package. Addictiveness could be quantified (by independent medical professionals, not the government) and placed on the package. Also, the ratio of the LD50 dose to the active dose could be printed in big letters. The time to take effect could also be printed, so that people don't accidentally overdose thinking the first hit didn't work. This would increase government revenue through more taxes and less money spent on the DEA, destroy the black market and its associated violence, drastically empty our prisons of nonviolent offenders, restore faith in the police as a force to protect people rather than imprison them for "victimless crimes", and make it more difficult for kids to buy drugs. (Yes, more difficult. Children regularly report that it's more difficult to obtain alcohol than drugs, for the simple reason that most drug dealers don't ask for ID.) It would also help more drug addicts get treatment, because they'd no longer have to fear prosecution if they want to get treatment. Oh, and it would give us back a free society where citizens are treated as adults who can make their own decisions about their own bodies.

    If you're looking for an objective information source regarding drugs, I highly recommend erowid.org. This website contains information about damn near every psychoactive drug in existence. Not only chemical information and physiological effects, but also specific legal information and many, MANY personal experiences.

    Strangely enough, I find myself recommending the South Park episode about weed to anyone who wants a decent way to sum up the dangers of marijuana. After most of the episode centers around ridiculous propaganda, Stan's father eventually wises up and says: "Son, weed isn't going to make you a criminal. It will make you okay with being bored, though, and every day you spend stoned on the couch is one less day you could be learning a new hobby or developing a new skill." I found that very insightful. Frankly, I also liked the recent drug commercial where a stoner says "I smoked weed, and I didn't become homeless or start smoking crack. We just sat on my friend's couch... and sat... and sat... I'd rather take my chances outside, where it's dangerous."

    This kind of honest approach would do wonders, in my opinion. And, yes, I'm a regular stoner- I just know how and when to put the drugs down and work on my physics PhD thesis (if you don't believe this, look at my history and read the posts I've written regarding quantum entangleme

  • Re:It's True (Score:4, Insightful)

    by badasscat (563442) <basscadet75.yahoo@com> on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @05:16PM (#23754895)
    The only explanation is that all countries get a lot of money from drug dealers. Either that or the people governing us are complete retards.

    Or maybe governments just don't think it's a very good idea for people to be homebrewing dangerous narcotics. Yes, it *is* possible to overdose on morphine, which is derived from the poppy plant. Continuous use even of smaller doses can cause all sorts of problems, some of which are not particularly pleasant to even talk about, much less experience (as I know first-hand). A doctor still needs to prescribe the correct dosage and manage its use and *somebody* needs to actually ensure that the correct dose is being dispensed.

    You could say "well, then let doctors grow the plants and refine the medicine, at least cut out the middle man" - but I doubt most doctors would be all that interested. For one thing, it puts liability for any drug-related problems onto them. Right now, if somebody dispenses the wrong dosage - if a pill that's labeled 60mg actually contains 600mg, for example - that's not the doctor's fault. Do you think doctors would be interested in *making* it their fault?

    No matter how you think about it, if you don't want a whole bunch of dead people lying around along with a whole bunch of corresponding new lawsuits against doctors who are just trying to care for their patients winding their way through the courts, then some outside entity needs to actually be refining and dispensing these drugs. In our system, that's the pharmaceutical company and the pharmacist. These are specialized jobs; they're not something just anyone can or should do.

    If I take the wrong dosage of my medication (Inderal LA), my brain doesn't get enough blood, my heart eventually stops and I die. Do you think I want to be refining my own Inderal? Hell no. And honestly, nobody else should be doing so either, however libertarian your views are. If such a practice became widespread, the result would be absolute chaos in the health care system and a whole lot of unnecessary and fully preventable deaths.

    This is not to say there aren't serious problems with our system for dispensing prescription drugs to those who need them. But the existence of specialists who actually know what they're doing and highly precise machines designed for the specific purpose of refining drugs are not among those problems.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 12, 2008 @04:45AM (#23760835)
    Comparing pot and crack is about as ridiculous as comparing aspirin and crack
  • by Oktober Sunset (838224) <<ku.oc.oohay> <ta> <301egapds>> on Thursday June 12, 2008 @06:12AM (#23761419)
    Oh my!
    According to your logic, it's ok that Iran has the death penalty for gay people because it doesn't catch most of them, it's ok that Sudan stones women to death for having sex outside marriage, because it doesn't catch most of them.
    If you are going to make a stupid argument, stand by it to it's stupid conclusion or shut your mouth. Answer all of what is put to you, not just the bits you can do easily, should people be arrested for obsessively eating chocolate?, for obsessively going on the internet?

    having an unenforced law on the books and saying that is ok is dangerous, it gives the government a reason to arrest people they don't like at any time. Would you feel the same if coffee was illegal? knowing that if sheriff takes a dislike to you he could come round to your house at any time and find your coffee stash? Knowing that if you ever join a protest movement, the police could put you away for coffee possession?

    You don't seem to understand why selective persecution is a bad thing, it's because they can at any time and for any reason change their mind, if they want to make a scapegoat for some social problem, they can just round up the drug users, if your neighbour doesn't like you for whatever reason, they could be prejudiced in some other way, they can call the cops to haul you away for smoking weed, there's dozens of reasons why they could suddenly change their mind and come and arrest you.

    Oh and if people walking a bit funny down hte side walk is such a big inconvenience(I've been drunk as fuck sometimes, but I've never bumped into someone on hte way home on a busy street) are you going to ban dyspraxic people from going out on their own? what about fat people on their mobility scooters, their food addiction has made them interfere with my ability to walk down the street.

    Fact is, you can't think of any reason why being stoned has a negative impact on others on it's own, sitting in the street, walking down the middle of the road, they are things people can do sober and you can be stoned off your face and do none of them at all. If someone blocks the pavement, arrest them for blocking the pavement, it is just as blocked if they are stoned or not.

    Have some consistency and logic in your arguments, and stop going back on what you said whenever you are proved wrong.

    have the courage of your convictions and say you think weed is evil and makes people into raping, robbing sociopaths, its what you have hinted at through all your posts, so why not just say it?

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