Security researchers believe that the creator of the Sobig mass-mailing computer virus won't stop with Sobig.F–the money may be too good.
The Sobig viruses–the first of which started spreading in January–are designed to load special software that can anonymize spam onto people's PCs. The tens of thousands of computers infected by the virus can then be used by bulk e-mailers to send unsolicited messages that can't be tracked.
“It is very well planned, very well designed and very well executed,” said Mikko Hypponen, director of antivirus research for security company F-Secure. Hypponen believes that the virus' author likely sells the list of compromised PCs to spammers. “For once we have a virus with a very good motive: money.”
The Sobig viruses are perhaps the first to be used as moneymakers, and that means it's likely the programmer, or group of programmers, that created the latest variant won't stop, said Joe Stewart, senior security researcher for network-protection company Lurhq.
“I do think we will see a new variant soon,” Stewart said. Stewart has been studying each iteration of the Sobig virus and believes that, despite heightened law enforcement interest in finding the author, it's unlikely he or she will stop or be found. “The guy obviously knows how to use proxy servers (to achieve anonymity). To think you can track him down using an IP (Internet protocol) address down is pretty far-fetched.” [Privacy Digest]