November 27, 2006 10:35 AM PST

Security from A to Z: Botnet

A botnet--also known as a "zombie network" or "zombie army"--is a collection of Internet-connected PCs that have been compromised by infection from malicious software.

That compromise means they can be controlled remotely by a malicious outsider, often without the PC owner's knowledge. Computers not protected by adequate antivirus and firewall software are at greatest risk of being corralled into a botnet.

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The A to Z of security
Read the first part in our rundown of hot security topics, from antivirus to zero-day threats.

Armies of zombie PCs are used by cybercriminals for sending spam or viruses or committing denial-of-service attacks. Capacity on botnets is rented out to criminal gangs or individuals for as little as $100 for a couple of hours by their creator--often a very commercially motivated virus writer.

A zombie army was used in a high profile distributed denial-of-service attack against Akamai Technologies this year, affecting the Web sites of some of its big-name tech clients.

Natasha Lomas reported for Silicon.com in London.

See more CNET content tagged:
denial of service, security, antivirus, virus

3 comments

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Here's hoping that Vista will help
Secureworks.com reports that nearly half the Spamthru botnets
are Windows XP SP2.

I sure hope all this "Vista is more secure" isn't all hype. We're
already blocking or filtering 95.4% of all email.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.secureworks.com/analysis/spamthru-stats/" target="_newWindow">http://www.secureworks.com/analysis/spamthru-stats/</a>
Posted by rcrusoe (1305 comments )
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Only if it educates the end user
XP is easily secured. However, the end user typically either doesn't bother securing it properly or, more disturbing, undoes the security that is inherent to the OS because it's inconvenient.

If a Vista end user runs into a security roadblock, they'll simply undo the secure setting in order to perform their activity, and once again have a wide-open OS sitting on the Internet for malware to prey on.
Posted by ejevo (134 comments )
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Amen!
I think it will help though, IE7's protected mode is more than bound to at least make it harder for hackers to install bots. Windows Defender, although not the best, is better than nothing, which is what alot of computers that I've worked on have. UAC, which is probably the most vulernable to being turned off, will help if the user will take a few seconds to actually read what it says.
ISP's need to take more responsibility for the traffic they handle. If they all made a more concerted effort for security, that would make an even bigger difference.
ejevo is more than right that the software has to be a ton easier to configure and smarter so the end user doesn't see popups that they will make effort to get rid of. Microsoft has been moving this way with Defender, but making it easier to use also makes it less powerful.
To safer web surfing!
Posted by ZachThurston-21728418704322188 (25 comments )
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