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Invasion Of The Botnets: Is Your Computer A Zombie?

May 22, 2008
Lurking on your hard drive somewhere, is there an enemy that you perhaps unwittingly have allowed into your computer's backdoor? Maybe you notice that your computer has slowed down or you are suddenly inundated with ads when you visit your favorite sites or worst of all, maybe you notice nothing different at all. Yet, something lurks there in the electronic recesses of your computer waiting - waiting for the perfect opportunity to exploit this security vulnerability in your system. Your computer may have become a 'zombie' and you do not even realize it.

Botnets and zombies are nothing new and have been in existence for several years. However, recently the technology has exploded as cyber criminals add new privates to the ranks of their armies each day. And unfortunately, the explosive epidemic of botnets and zombies shows no signs of easing any time soon.

What are botnets? Botnets are computers that have been compromised and taken over by cyber criminals for whatever devious purpose. They turn affected computers into 'zombies' that perform their malicious activities at will. Many times, you will not even realize that your computer has become a 'zombie' in a botnet army. And as more and more people log onto the Internet every day, larger and more powerful botnets are created.

How can you better protect yourself from the threat? Botnets often gain control of your computer through viruses that infiltrate your computer via email attachments, peer-to-peer applications, and certain malicious software programs that are freely available on the Internet.

These viruses are not the kinds that disable your system, though. They may just cause it to slow down a bit or behave somewhat strangely. The reason for this is that in order for your 'zombie' computer to perform its duties, it must be operational and plugged into the Internet. Botnets are used by hackers for a number of malevolent purposes including phishing scams, identity theft, spamming campaigns, hiding the activities of hackers, drafting other 'zombies', deploying keyloggers to gain access to sensitive information, and other questionable or illegal activities.

Botnets have become a major threat over the past few years that make it imperative to enable a strong line of defense on your computer. In addition to having these security measures in place, you must also take precautions to ensure that you are not making it easy for your computer to morph unexpectedly into a 'zombie'.

Ensuring that you have a firewall in place is the first line of defense. Never allow any programs that you are unsure of to access your operating system. Also, regular scanning of your computer with anti-virus software is a necessity to help keep botnets at bay.

After forming your line of defense in terms of software, the next step is to make sure that you are not the culprit. Never open any email attachments unless you know who they are from and exactly what they are. Plus, you should use only licensed versions of software that you have legally purchased.

Keeping these things in mind will help you keep the botnets away and ensure that you are the only one controlling your computer. Remember to treat your computer's security as a serious issue and you will never be left wondering whether your computer has become a 'zombie'.
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