Who’s In Control Of YOUR Computer?

A ‘bot’ is another term for ‘robot.’ The word robot in this case, is being used to describe some software that can perform tasks automatically. ‘Malware’ is a type of program created to sneak into a computer without the owner’s knowledge. When a computer has been infiltrated by malware, more software is downloaded to place the computer under remote control. That computer is then called a Zombie or a bot because it is under the control of a new master, rather than the original owner.

Remotely controlled computers can be combined into networks known as ‘botnets’. The people who control botnets are called ‘bot herders’ or ‘botmasters.’ As a botnet adds more infected computers, it becomes more powerful. In early 2010 a botnet called Mariposa was taken down by Spanish authorities, the FBI and several private Internet security firms. The Mariposa network contained 12.7 million computers. Most botnets are not nearly that big, but may contain hundreds of thousands of infected computers. Every one of those infected computers belongs to someone like you, or one of our friends or family.

The goal of the bad guys is to make money. Just as a street criminal will steal a car to rob a bank, cyber criminals steal computers to commit crimes. That makes it much more difficult for the authorities to trace the crimes back to the criminals. Once hijacked, your computer is infected with more malware to search for information of value. They’re after e-mail addresses, passwords, user names, account numbers, passwords and more. This information may be sold on the black market websites or used directly.

Botnets can be used for several malicious purposes. First they can be use to sell illegal or counterfeit products by e-mail. Pharmaceuticals and counterfeit watches seem to be hot right now. In other cases the e-mails are intended to drive traffic to an infected website in an attempt to infect as many visitors as possible. The distribution of billions of phishing e-mails daily is another popular use of botnets. The most sophisticate use of botnets is for a cyber attack against a specific website, server, network or even a whole country. In 2007 the country of Estonia was essentially shut down for 3 weeks during a cyber attack.

Rik Ferguson, a senior analyst at the Internet security firm Trend Micro, sums the situation up with this quote. “…most non-commercial spam these days is aimed solely to get you to click on a link, even out of curiosity. As soon as you click on that link, you’re infected, most likely to become yet another botnet victim, have your identity and information stolen and go on to participate, all unknowingly in the infection of further victims.”

Billions of dollars are spent annually to protect computers from malware such as viruses, Trojans, worms, etc. More billions are lost to theft and fraud not to mention the cost of repairs, lost productivity and missed business opportunities. Yet there is no end in sight. Malware is created by organized, sophisticated and well-funded criminal gangs. Their goal is to take your money and they’ve found an endless variety of ways to reach that goal. Antiquated laws and a lack of resources hinder the efforts of law enforcement.

To be safe on the Internet you need to know how to protect yourself. Here’s a recent post on Internet Security that can help you get started: Uk marriage visa http://techteachtoo.com/internet-security/internet-security/ If you find this information useful, you might also like the website Uk marriage visa http://techteachtoo.com. A free e-mail newsletter is available, or you can subscribe via RSS.

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