The Rise of the Zombie Computer

Tips & Hints

Zombie computers are looking to attack you right now, how do you avoid your system becoming one?

10 November 2005

The single most common computer problem we see is spyware. Normally spyware programs try to pump ads onto the users computers, but there are much more sinister users for such programs. Becoming a zombie is one of the more serious things that can happen to an infected system.

Zombie computers are where systems are controlled by the bad guys. Just like the horror movie zombies, their master sends a command to march out to do their tasks. Usually those tasks are either sending out viruses, spam or knocking a web site off the Internet with a flood of traffic.

The problem is serious, a survey by security company Ciphertrust suggests over 170,000 computers become zombies every day. A Microsoft test found a single zombie machine sending out 18 MILLION spam emails over twenty days. The numbers are staggering.

Governments have started to respond to this. In Australia, the Federal government and five large Internet Providers have announced a program where they will identify zombie computers on their network. Previous programs by individual ISPs have seen large numbers of subscribers disconnected from the Internet until they've cleaned up their systems.

How do you avoid becoming a zombie and being kicked off the net? Our Computer Protection Kit page goes into the details of what you need to keep your computer safe. The most important elements are an up-to-date anti virus and a firewall.

It might sound like a third rate fifties horror movie, but the rise of the Zombie computers is no joke. These are the systems responsible for your inbox being flooded with spam or your favourite websites being knocked off the net. While few users can do much about the people responsible for these things, protecting your computer from becoming infected is the first step you can take to adding to the problem.
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ŠTechnology Publishing Australia, 2008