It sounds like something straight out of Hollywood. A horde of merciless souls invading our world and wreaking havoc where ever they go. They are everywhere, and they are seemingly unstoppable. As far-fetched as this may sound, in a way, it is true.
Zombie BotNets are real, are everywhere and pose a real threat. What are they and what can be done to stop them?
From Wikipedia.com, a botnet “…is a jargon term for a collection of software robots, or bots, which run autonomously and automatically. They run on groups of zombie computers controlled remotely.”. They are the #1 source of computer spam and fraud on the Internet today. This includes keystroke logging of passwords and banking information, to spamming, to denial of service attacks. Some estimates put it as high as 50% of all computers connected to the Internet are infected and part of a zombie botnet.
Adam O’Donnell from CloudMark (http://www.cloudmark.com/) talks to KOMO-1000 radio in Seattle
So what can be done to stop them? Prevention of infection is key. Once infected, it is very difficult to cleanse your system and a format / re-install is likely needed.
- Keep your system updated with the latest patches put out by your OS vendor. They regularly plug vulnerabilities and security holes.
- Be vigilant with your e-mail. Don’t open attachments you aren’t expecting from people you do not know. This is the most common way “bots” spread.
- Use a good anti-virus and anti-spam application…and keep them updated. Opinions on what to use vary so ask around. I personally recommend something like AVG Free and Spybot Search and Destroy.
- Only download from reputable companies and sites you know. You never know what you’ll get downloading from Jim-Bob’s House of Software (no offense Jim-Bob).
- Use a firewall of some kind. Use a hardware firewall/router if you can, a software firewall if you must or both if you are really paranoid.
- Backup backup backup. Just in case something does go weird and you do need to format, having your data backed up is a good thing.
Being safe is not difficult and is usually a matter of common sense. At the end of the day, YOU are either your own best line of defense or your own worst enemy. Be aware, be smart and be safe.
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