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January 2006 Virus and Spam Statistics 115

Ant writes "Commtouch reports the January 2006's virus and spam statistics. Its summary said there were four massive virus attacks (including a multi-wave attack of 7 variants) and the most aggressive attacks penetrated before the average antivirus (AV) solution could even release a signature. The data is based on information continuously gathered by the Commtouch Detection Center, which analyzed more than 2 billion messages from over 130 countries during the month of January 2006..."
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January 2006 Virus and Spam Statistics

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  • by wormnet.org ( 955561 ) on Sunday February 19, 2006 @12:18PM (#14755058) Homepage
    Not very long ago, when the Kama Sutra (Nyxem.E, MyWife, whatever) worm was released to the world it seemed to take absolutely forever to find anyone with a solution for the removal or even the detection of the thing. I think it was almost a full week before the signatures were widely distributed. Even though this was a attack was very mild (as far as viruses are concerned), what would have been the outcome had this been "the Big One"?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 19, 2006 @12:42PM (#14755171)
      Your post is never going to compile dude. MyWife is supposed to be the first argument of KamaSutra().
    • I take it you haven't heard of AVG. They already detected it (without releasing a new signature) on Janurary 16th. How? Simple. Heuristics. Oh, and they do a free version.

      http://www.grisoft.com/ [grisoft.com]
      • I take it you haven't heard of AVG. They already detected it (without releasing a new signature) on Janurary 16th.

        Oh yeah, I tried that as well, but as far as I can tell, it was zero day and nothing was working. Of course this was an email worm and it was not on one of my own machines. First and foremost, the first line of defense for this sort of thing is education. If we didn't have people out there that would open any attachment they receive, we wouldn't have anywhere near the problem with this so
        • Since educating the users doesn't work, and playing catch-up with malware also doesn't work, the solution should be obvious: preemptive technologies and practices.

          A few examples.

          * Whitelisting executables that are allowed to run on the system. It seems to work well for firewalls such as Zone Alarm, which starts from a deny-all policy and prompts the user for things it wants to allow. Substitute "user" with "admin" for executables, though.

          * Any app used for communication should follow some common-sense rules
      • by arivanov ( 12034 ) on Sunday February 19, 2006 @02:53PM (#14755869) Homepage
        There was a brilliant signature for SpamAssassin to detect dodgy MSFT executables in 2.6x. The mainstream 3.x has removed it but it is still available out there in the bogus virus warning list towards the end of it (http://www.timj.co.uk/linux/bogus-virus-warnings. cf [timj.co.uk]). Beware the owner of the page allows only one GET per IP address per day. You have one chance to download the ruleset. Combined with greylisting on the external gateway this has caught every single virus outbreak out there for the last 3 months. Not a single virus ladden email has gotten past the combination of this.
    • Not very long ago, when the Kama Sutra (Nyxem.E, MyWife, whatever) worm was released to the world it seemed to take absolutely forever to find anyone with a solution for the removal or even the detection of the thing.

      The virus is reported [bbc.co.uk] to have first emerged on the 16th January 2006. Sophos [sophos.com] says [sophos.com] they provided protection from 16:03:20 GMT on that day. So while it may have taken ages for you to find an anti-virus vender with detection or removal, there *were* solutions on the same day. Trend Micro also sa [trendmicro.com]

    • Viral infections are easy to prevent, you just dont click on bad shit. Most security conscious IT guys are there already. It's the worm that finds a holes in the windows firewall that I think will be the big one (ala blaster).
  • by MutantHamster ( 816782 ) on Sunday February 19, 2006 @12:19PM (#14755062) Homepage
    January was a horrible month for viruses. Take it from me: If you get an email from an Asian Bird, don't open it.
  • Spam Gestapo (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PipeIsArt ( 800028 ) on Sunday February 19, 2006 @12:20PM (#14755067) Homepage
    Spammers have deduced that to avoid being blocked by the simplest mail server rules, they need to use a valid domain. However, if the domain that is used is unique and used only for spam, they would easily be blacklisted. The result - the use of popular domains that blacklists dare not touch. I would like to learn what the email domains listed in the article are doing to keep the number of spammers low. I mean if Google can churn out the world's best search engine, targeted ads, and other random applications of the week, then they surely have enough creative juices to flush out their own spam accounts.
    • Actually, Gmail does a remarkably effective job of filtering spam from my in-box.
    • Of course they do. But where's the profit in that? Especially when one of the main features of their mail service is their antispam.
      • Though, y'know that they aren't charging for their anti-spam, so I fail to see why they would want more spammers...
        • They're making money indirectly from it by advertising - if there wasn't so much spam, people might go for services with less advertising but without the antispam.
      • Of course they do. But where's the profit in that?

        Ask Hotmail. Last I heard, they were getting payed by advertisers to let stuff pass through their antispam filters.

        Yahoo has (recently?) added captcha's for every message you send out and they're moving towards a heavy JavaScript interface too.

        Google are still relatively protected by theirs being a full AJAX interface. But I'm willing to bet there are JavaScript-enabled bots out there used for spam purposes (collecting addresses and operating such interfaces
    • Maintaining abuse desks. Not fun. I know, I work at one. Pulling 12 hour+ workdays, reading tons of email, and never catching up to the flood of spam and complaints.

      Differentiating between spam and complaints is a non-trivial problem. Most clued administrators don't block by domain, but by IP address. This reduces the problem of blockages considerably.
  • by antifoidulus ( 807088 ) on Sunday February 19, 2006 @12:22PM (#14755075) Homepage Journal
    That is some interesting research(only 5% of spam is porn?!), but where is spam headed long term? They have that little graph were you can see trends for 30 days, 100 days, or 12 months(though the 30 days and 12 months didn't work for me in Safari), but does anyone have reliable statistics that go back farther?

    Is spam burning out, finding new markets, or are people just continuing to send spam even if they don't make a profit on it?
    • by mctk ( 840035 ) on Sunday February 19, 2006 @12:35PM (#14755138) Homepage
      Actually, I do have research that goes back further. Please, post a reply that contains your email address and I'll be sure and send you my spam-research-installer. After clicking "yes" to all of the options, you'll be granted access to a huge database containing thousands of research papers 6arranteed t o maek ur Pennis HU6E!!!!!1!!!111!

      ahem, sorry.

    • Is spam burning out, finding new markets, or are people just continuing to send spam even if they don't make a profit on it?

      Well I'm pretty sure someone is making a profit out of it. It costs next to nothing to send a million emails, and there are a lot of dumbasses out there.
      • Well I'm pretty sure someone is making a profit out of it. It costs next to nothing to send a million emails, and there are a lot of dumbasses out there.

        While this is certainly true (money drives spam), I don't see why this is being attributed to dumb people who click on links due to cluelessness. I'd venture to say it's more likely that spam messages sell something that people want. They send out a million messages a day for whatever merchendise: viagra, bogus kits for enlargement of various body parts, fa
    • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Sunday February 19, 2006 @12:47PM (#14755194)
      First of all, spamfilters, no matter how good they are, won't solve it. Who has filters? You, me, the rest of the "clued" people. But we wouldn't click on a spam ad anyway, would we?

      The people who do click on one simply have no clue what's going on and thus have no spamfilter. So spamfilters are simply for our convenience of not having to deal with junk.

      Laws won't make spam go away. Unless you have a globally universal and most of all equal law concerning spam, all it does is to go to another place. And since making spam legal equals tax income for a country, I'd give a the possibility of the RIAA realizing that copycrippling their music isn't the right way a higher chance of coming to reality.

      So Spam is here, and it's here to stay. It will maybe become more sophisticated, and it will most certainly become used by people wanting to plant other malware onto your system (e.g. the combination of spamming a link and planting a bogus WMF onto the referred site).

      But Spam won't stop.
      • However, lots of people use services like gMail and Hotmail, which come with increasingly more accurate spam filters.

        Perhaps they should get together to build an antispam service. Think about it, they can analyse every incoming mail. If more than X% of the message text matches Y% of total messages recieved over a time period (i.e. most spam is sending chunks of identical text to lots of people in very little time) then it's automatically flagged as spam, the SMTP server is blocked, and a bayesian pattern is
        • However, lots of people use services like gMail and Hotmail, which come with increasingly more accurate spam filters.
          Exactly... spam is forcing the decline of traditional email. I doubt if an email sent from one gmail user to another even uses SMTP at all. When we think of software as a subscription-based service, with no locally installed special-purpose software, we should look to email as the model for a smooth transition.
          • I doubt if an email sent from one gmail user to another even uses SMTP at all.

            No, Gmail uses SMTP within its own network.

            Received: from gmail-pop.l.google.com []
            by localhost with POP3 (fetchmail-6.2.5)
            for pjr@localhost (single-drop); Sun, 19 Feb 2006 16:33:50 +0000 (GMT)
            X-Gmail-Received: 713bd0b9259c38cc4ff423185da512b6eba2bb86
            Delivere d-To: *******@gmail.com
            Received: by with SMTP id e12cs41859qbp;
            Sun, 19 Feb 2006 08:29:38 -0800 (PST)
            Received: by 10.70

        • Technically, this system is prone to abuse: Think censorship.

          You label something spam. That's allright, I don't care about the size of my penis (or breasts, or left pinky or whatever), and I certainly don't care that Mr. Mumbutu's wife needs a secure way to transfer her money.

          On the other hand, some governments would definitly enjoy not delivering messages that points out their flaws. Or some companies to have some of their more questionable practices revealed.

          Who gets to define spam? Who gets to make the f
          • Depends how algorithmic it is. If the whole thing is based purely on statistical volume + bayesian filter based on the same and not on any manual intervention then it should be fine. If BigBoxMail didn't specifically censor that from Spamorama and it just happened to fall into the 'spam' statistics then Spamorama don't have a legal leg to stand on, First Amendment or no.
    • only 5% of spam is porn?!
      Well, since emails in these categories:
      Pharmaceutical (52.46%): Medical offering (as in "V1@6ra!!!1! with0ut doktor vi5it!!!")
      Enhancers & Diets (13.38%): Show her how; (as in 3nl@rge uR M3mber!11!)
      sometimes come with porn-like pictures, I don't think the free advert^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hresearch article shows that porn traffic has really dropped to 5%.
      • The interesting thing is the medical spam already has many state and federal laws that could be used by defense attorneys.

        Remember, its still highly illegal to offer drugs to kids inside 1000 ft of a school. People have been busted when the dealer was outside of the area but the buyer was inside.
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Sunday February 19, 2006 @12:28PM (#14755109)
    What's coming down our road is a lot more 0day exploits. WMF was the tip of the iceberg.

    What's also coming is "multi facetted attacks". I.e. spyware and adware that is being used not only to display pesky ads but also used as a foot in the door to install malware on your PC (i.e. malware that's MORE destructive than just popups).

    What I foresee as well is that trojan writers will make more and more use of crippleware that's installed by third party software (for example, software that's supposed to ensure you don't break copyrights). Simply because this kind of software is more or less omnipresent (or will be soon), while not going through the rather strict screening process that normal OS modules go through. Yes, no matter what you think of MS, their soft is one of the best tested in the world (in the non-open source world at least, screening in OS outmatches it by magnitudes).

    The goal for virus and trojan writers isn't anymore the spreading and the rather masturbatory enjoyment of knowing your virus spreads like crazy. Money's made its way into the trojan biz. And 3 goals are predominantly present:

    1. Spambots
    2. DDoS sheep
    3. Phishing

    While 1 and 2 have already had their heydays, phishing is strongly on the rise. I can say without breaking any NDA agreements that we are currently facing very well organized, very strongly pushing phishing attacks targeted at passwords for the "usual" targets (amazon, ebay, paypal), as well as a lot of national and international banks (online banking is something I would not really do right now on a Windows-based system...).

    The organization behind it is stunning. Ways to launder the money that makes some old mafia tactics look bland. Update cycles and update services for those trojans that rival or outmatch large corporations.

    Teach your peers. Tell them about it. Tell them to friggin' install that damn antivirus tool. And to upgrade their Windows. And most of all, to finally abandon that insecure webbrowsing pest that comes with every MS System!
    • Since when does a bunch of half-baked predictions for the future, without any evidence to back it up at all, constitute "my experience".

      • Unfortunately revealing the evidence would definitly violate the NDA I had to sign.

        So no, I cannot back it up with evidence. It was also not labeled "the naked truth" but "my experience". I can look at what happened in the past, look at what's going on now and extrapolate into the forseeable future. So this is what I saw, what I see, and what I predict to happen.

        If I had the ability to predict the future without any fault, I would stop looking for viri and start daytrading.

      • I would say that he wouldn't be far off.

        Look at how much network security is needed for WoW. Or gold farmers and how organized they are.

        Look at how the Nigerian email scams are still going around ... and succeeding.

        Getting access to someone's bank account is low risk and effort, high reward.
    • online banking is something I would not really do right now on a Windows-based system...). ...

      Teach your peers. Tell them about it. Tell them to friggin' install that damn antivirus tool. And to upgrade their Windows. And most of all, to finally abandon that insecure webbrowsing pest that comes with every MS System!

      Why do you still recommend a broken solution?

      Nobody that I know of that uses a Mac has virus problems, spyware, or any of the chronic probelems that plague Microsoft operating systems. In fact,
      • Besides games, I don't know what is so compelling about the Windows platform.

        It's there when you unpack your new PC or laptop.
        • It's there when you unpack your new PC or laptop.


          I haven't unpacked a PC or laptop that came with windows since 2001. And in 2001, yes, you are right, it was there when I unpacked it until I put something else on it. But since that date, none of the computers I have bought or worked with (roughly 100) have come with Windows on them.

    • Some of us are attempting to do something about it. While I have much to finish about the project you can read a little here [netkinetics.net]. Check out OpenSDS.

      Most of your phishing is originating from shared web hosting servers. This is because quite often they do not verify their accounts and offer instant account setup with unadulterated access to exim. Check your spam headers and see how much came from "nobody".

      The other problem is insecure scripts, or scripts made insecure due to a lack of knowledge on the part of the
  • by Mostly a lurker ( 634878 ) on Sunday February 19, 2006 @12:29PM (#14755113)
    It does seem that some virus attacks are occurring too quickly for traditional AV approaches to provide adequate protection. Perhaps an approach suggested by Israeli researchers, Distributive immunization of networks against viruses using the 'honey-pot' architecture [netdimes.org] [warning: PDF], has virtue. The basic idea is to automate virus recognition and immediately push a "vaccine" to potentially vulnerable machines.
  • by imipak ( 254310 )
    Nice free advertising on Slashdot. Any chance of equal exposure for some competing sources [google.co.uk]?
  • I wonder just how many of these reported virusses are either:
    1) Developed and released by anti-virus companies themelves to sell more product
    2) Non-existent myhts propagated by anti-virus companies to sell more product
    3) Other software intentionally miscategorised as virusses by antivirus comapnies to sell more product.
    • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Sunday February 19, 2006 @01:14PM (#14755310)
      1. No, thank you. We got enough work analyzing and prodding viri, we don't need to write them. We get them, for free. Why bother working more than you really have to?

      Detach yourself from the idea of the "fun" virus that spreads, displays junk or wipes your hard drive. Those are becoming fewer and fewer. The "new" generation of viri and trojans have a very defined goal: Making money for their creator. Either by using the infected machines for another attack (use it in a DDoS blackmail attack), gathering your passwords to steal from you directly (paypaling your money away or "making" you buy their stuff for horrible prices at EBay) or use you as a relay station for spam and other malware so it cannot be traced back to them (and spam being the most harmless of them).

      2. I do admit, we sometimes exaggerate the threat. Not for our personal gain. People don't go out and buy antivirus soft just because the threat level is rising. There're a LOT of free antivirus solutions that are by no means worse than commercial products, and a lot of commercial products do have a non-commercial free version.
      But, for example, because the trojan poses a threat to the net as a whole while the damage to the single machine infected would be minimal. Why should YOU care, if YOUR damage is low? People are selfish like that, unfortunately.

      3. Something you won't see soon again. There was a quite nasty lawsuit against a German antivirus company for labeling some adware correctly as adware. I certainly wouldn't label anything that's not most certainly BAD BAD BAD software bad. The lawsuit is right at your tail if you do.
      • 1. I know people who got paid to "find" unknown viruses. It was a long time ago so things may have changed but I don't see anything in a new anti-virus startup business model that would prevent them from doing such things.
  • by J0nne ( 924579 ) on Sunday February 19, 2006 @01:05PM (#14755269)
    If this report proves anything, is that running antivirus software is not good protection. You have to educate users not to open suspicious attachments, not to run IE, and to keep their systems updated (every modern OS does this automatically! Windows also does this since SP2). A firewall and/or NAT router is always a good idea too.

    I don't run antivirus (except the occasional ClamWin run if I downloaded something I don't trust completely), and I manage to keep my computer clean just by following the above rules. Antivirus won't protect you from ad/spyware anyway, and these things have become worse than viruses.

    If the antivirus vendors can't keep up with new viruses, you might aswell stop paying for antivirus. After all, it won't protect you.
    • It's just not the perfect cure. When you install an antivirus suit and consider yourself completely safe, click on everything you can because "hey, I have antivirus, I'm safe", you're in a very dangerous misconception.

      I mean, you do wear a condom when having intercourse, right? But still you don't do it with people of "questionable background", right? Why?

      The best protection is still having an antivirus suit and behaving like you don't.
      • It's just that people do fall into that trap of trusting their antivirus. Why would you pay for an antivirus application which will probably screw up your system more than an infection, if you can keep your computer clean by following some simple guidelines?

        I see computers with P4's that run the speed of a PIII just because they're running Norton's crap. And those computers are infected with tons of adware too, because Norton won't do anything to stop those.

        I just have Clamwin on my system as a regular appl
      • Oh yes it is! (Score:3, Informative)

        by code65536 ( 302481 )
        Anti-virus has become more or less snake oil in respect to their effectiveness. They are slow to respond to new threats and are too easily disabled by attacks. Knowledgeable users have no need for AV because they know how to avoid infections quite easily (I'm a Windows user who has never used AV in 15 years and I have never been infected). People who are not knowledgeable will get a false sense of security and feel that they do not need to bother with learning all the ins and outs of safety.

        I remember do
        • That's a given. Unfortunately it's not reality. Look around you amongst your peers, subtract the ones that have a clue when it comes to computers, and then try to teach them.

          You'll get an answer akin to this: "Lemme alone, I don't wanna learn that, I just wanna surf and enjoy it."

          People don't want to learn. You don't want to be a mechanic to drive your car, all you want is to turn the key and kick the throttle. It's the same way with computers.

          Yes, you might actually not need an antivirus tool. Not somethin
          • Yes, you might actually not need an antivirus tool. Not something I'd recommend, since there are so many other ways to get infected and bugged even if you're careful

            Really? I'm behind a NAT router which forwards no ports, and all my contact with the outside world is through the latest versions of Firefox and Thunderbird. How exactly can I be infected if I don't run any suspicious executables?

        • Re:Oh yes it is! (Score:3, Insightful)

          by isorox ( 205688 )
          I have never been infected

          How do you know?
      • Antivirus isn't great, as it comes with a bunch of issues, such as resource implications, acting as a threat vector itself, and generally being a case of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted (zero-day exploits).

        So add-on antivirus software isn't exactly *useful*, and isn't anything like running a sane operating system with pragmatically chosen security settings - which wouldn't include, by and large, anti-virus or anti-spyware scanning type software.

      • I also think AV applications are very useful. Eg. I use clamav and AVG to keep malware out of my email. I'm pretty sure that it's good if an AV app can catch a worm but that's only the 2nd line of defense. You 1st line of defense is your up-to-date OS otherwise you are dead.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      I certainly wouldn't call AV software useless... It's a good first line of defense... But it certainly isn't a silver bullet.

      A lot of AV software out there is simply crap to start with. It burns up your system resources and doesn't even protect you properly. The problem is, your average user has absolutely no way to judge what is "good" AV and what is "bad" AV. Every box out there claims to be the best, and every self-respecting geek has a strong opinion about which brand is the best.

      Even if you get yo
    • Wow, that's brilliant. AV is useless, but you think you need it? How did that ever get modded to +5 Insightful?

      Getting past your idiotic/inconsistant statements, raincoats are useless if you stay indoors, condoms are useless if you don't have sex, and AV software is useless if you don't interact with the real world (and don't have kids).

  • Why don't the lawyers provide indemnification against getting "computer viruses".?

    Why don't they make an OS that is immune from getting viruses just by clicking on a hot link or opening an attachment?

    http://fudwatcher.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com]
    • Why don't they make an OS that is immune from getting viruses just by clicking on a hot link or opening an attachment?

      Because it's very, very hard. First of all, users are constantly demanding that progams interact with each other, and with each other's data. This gives the web browser permission to pass that hotlink off to another piece of code and process it, sometimes without your intervention. It's these hand-offs that cause the problem. All it takes is one good buffer overflow error to drop some vi
      • ...will at least make sure that no program gets executed without the expressed consent by the user (i.e. no automatic execution of possibly malicious code). Furthermore, it will inform its user who just clicked on an attachment, that said attachment is exectuable code.

        If the user is dumb enough to STILL execute it, well, then he's the only one to blame. The biggest security problem of a system is still sitting in front of it.
    • Lets see, this'll get me modded +5 Troll (truthful)

      Why don't they make an OS that is immune from getting viruses just by clicking on a hot link or opening an attachment?

      Because software companies (most notably MS) prefer to sacrifice security to provide increased "ease of use". Or, "it's not a bug, it's a feature". Features sell. Bugs... well they do affect sales, but not to anywhere the same magnitude as new features. Company P.R. can spin the new features as wonderful and huge, and play down or totall
  • by RT Alec ( 608475 ) <`alec' `at' `slashdot.chuckle.com'> on Sunday February 19, 2006 @01:24PM (#14755349) Homepage Journal

    Pretty graphics, lots of "ooooo" factor. I find that they tell me nothing. This is a trend in the "network security" field:

    1. find a subject for which a lot of data can be collected
    2. preparing a bunch of colorful charts and graph that don't actualy convey any meaningful information
    3. Profit (or at least get mentioned on Slashdot, et al.)

    Tufte [edwardtufte.com] would be ashamed.

  • I wish that Slashdot editors would not post stories about press releases! Did someone get paid under the table?

    It's very common that press releases contain entirely invented "information". Certainly the people who write them can be expected to have NO technical knowledge, and not to care that they have no technical knowledge.

    If they enjoy it or it makes them money, rich people and leaders can kill small animals and Iraqis?
  • by Avohir ( 889832 ) on Sunday February 19, 2006 @02:29PM (#14755736)
    they never note specifics on which anti-virus performed how well, Their tests are based on the AVERAGE time to detect and the AVERAGE number of viruses missed. Not all anti-viruses are created equal, and some are distinctly less equal than others. Symantec and McAfee in particular have abysmal response time in updating their definitions. Granted since they're much bigger than their competitors, and with size comes sluggishness, but I've personally submitted samples to them and had to wait weeks before the definitions were added. That kind of delay is inexcuseable (if it takes that long to review samples, hire more people!)

    Also, when you take into account that McAfee detects fully half the files with any sort of file packer used (thats what they call 'heuristics', they've detected Hijackthis as a virus during 4 separate updates), you have to wonder how they can miss actual viruses with such a "shoot first and fix false positives later" mentality.

    as a positive counter-example, NOD32 and Kaspersky generally detect a new threat within an hour after they first see it, if their heuristics dont already pick it up.

    When it says that its the average of 21 major anti-virus vendors, I question whether the statistic is meaningful with so broad a spectrum of response times
  • by kadathseeker ( 937789 ) on Sunday February 19, 2006 @04:02PM (#14756299) Homepage
    I wish, after all of this hyping, that we'd get a bug as well written as some of these (you know, that gets into everything and around all defenses) but gets old-school on its victims. None of this pussyfooting around, I mean like copy itself, mailing itself to all of your contacts, and delete everyone's hard drives. Or filling it with beastiality pron. Nasty stuff.

    Show these kids what a real virus is about. Put that hype to good use. And make everyone stop acting like EVERY LITTLE BUG IS A RIDER OF THE APOCALYPSE. Because most of these, like even the Sober worm, aren't really that harmful. Most malware writers are really only out for money, not general misanthropia. I just want ONE killer bug to put all of this in perspective. And maybe get people to switch to a modern OS like Linus, BSD, or OS X.

    Because no, not even Norton can save you.
  • by Sfing_ter ( 99478 ) on Sunday February 19, 2006 @08:31PM (#14757909) Homepage Journal
    Did anyone else find it interesting that they are hosting this on a Win2k iis server?
    Funny choice given the stats...

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