Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Is Your Computer a Zombie?

As I was printing handouts for my program on computer security, "Your Computer Needs a Flu Shot, Too," there was an ugly copier jam that took three people to clear. While I was waiting, I saw this sobering article in the New York Times; "A Robot Network Seeks to Enlist Your Computer." In a Microsoft test, an unprotected computer was infected in 30 seconds. "An automated program lurking on the Internet has remotely taken over the PC and turned it into a 'zombie.' That computer and other zombie machines are then assembled into systems called “botnets” — home and business PCs that are hooked together into a vast chain of cyber-robots that do the bidding of automated programs to send the majority of e-mail spam, to illegally seek financial information and to install malicious software on still more PCs."

In my program I always stress how important it is to keep your system updated with the latest security patches. I also talk about keeping your antivirus definitions current, scanning and deleting spyware, and configuring your firewall. These things can go a long way toward keeping your computer safe and secure. The article also mentioned Microsoft's Malicious Software Removal Tool, a free program that can find and remove infections. I usually don't like to work without a net, but I didn't have time to test it before the program. Fortunately, it was easy to download and worked quickly. Best of all, my computer was clean.

Thanks to the hungry copier, I had enough time to add this to my handout and website.


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