Are Your Employees Responsible For Spam? Is Your Organization Liable?

Hackers, spammers and those bent on using the Internet to exploit others are making inroads in their efforts to overwhelm PC users with unwanted e-mail including pornographic images.

Experts are concerned about a new trend of relaying spam through unsuspecting computers left logged on to broadband connections, which are used as a conduit to forward thousands of messages to others without leaving a trace behind.

These RATs, or Remote Access Trojans, are believed to be responsible for close to one-third of all spam and have infiltrated the PCs of unsuspecting victims.

"There are lots of people on cable modems and broadband connections that haven't properly secured their computer," Graham Cluley, a senior technology consultant for Sophos, told CNET. "They don't know it, but their PC is being used as a relay for sending spam to thousands and thousands of other people. We believe that 30 percent of all spam is being sent from compromised computers."

At the same time, the BBC is reporting that employers need to understand that they are liable for the distress workers experience by receiving pornographic messages and images while at work.

"This is an obvious case where employers are directly liable to their employees," net law expert Dr. Brian Bandey, told the BBC. "This means all of the hazards, physical, mental and now emotional, that employees are exposed to.”

Security firm Symantec reported this week that 63 percent of the companies that replied to its survey on the subject found spam to be offensive. Bandey recommends companies take steps to avoid lawsuits from employees by doing all they can to prevent such e-mail from getting through their servers.

"But many companies do not take these steps and I do not understand why they do not," Bandey told the BBC.

Another trend of concern to Internet security experts is the spread of computer viruses, which are expected to cost the global economy about $13 billion this year, Reuters reported.

"So far they are getting away with it. They are winning by a considerable margin. Very few have been identified or prosecuted or punished,” David Finn, Microsoft's director of digital integrity for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, told Reuters.

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