Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Zombie Awareness Month

Today is the first day of Zombie Awareness month.

As such, I’d like to talk to you about the computer type of zombies.

You see, computers can become zombies quite easily if they are not properly cared for. Unlike humans, for whom there is no known zombie virus, there are a ton of nasty infections that can turn your computer (be it a PC, or a Mac) into a zombie.  Bad folks on the internet intent on using YOUR computer to make THEM money will set up websites designed to download just such an infection to your computers which will in turn allow the attacker to take over the mind of your computer, making it a zombie (sometimes also referred to as a bot).  These zombie computers link into something called a botnet and are then controlled by the zombie master (bot herder) who set up the site that infected them in the first place.

This nasty person bent on controlling your PC to his/her advantage may then send SPAM from it, use it to attack other computers or websites on the internet, run some money making scheme involving lots of processing (like bitcoin mining) from it, log your keystrokes and use what you type to learn your passwords to your bank and other places where the attacker could steal money from you.

The thing about computer zombies is that they have to talk to their master to learn what he/she wants them to do next. A good protection against that is a firewall that can alert you to new programs trying to make outbound connections. Most paid antivirus programs come with such a firewall, newer versions of Microsoft Windows even have one like that built in, and for older Windows computers that don’t, there is always the free ZoneAlarm or Comodo firewalls.

If your home computer asks you if it’s ok to let a new program connect to the internet, that’s what I am talking about. If you see it ask about letting a program you didn’t install make connections, just say no, run a virus scan and maybe a tool like Malwarebytes to search out the source of the infection. If you are not comfortable doing this on your own, seek help from a professional. Don’t let your zombie computer continue to use the internet, nothing good can come of that.

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