Thursday, April 24, 2008

What is a Botnet Anyway?

The National Cyber Security Alliance released a study earlier this month that states 88% of the participants surveyed do not know what a “botnet” is and that 71% had never heard of the term “botnet” before. Why is this important? Well, according to some security experts, botnets may be the biggest security threat online right now. A botnet refers to a a large network of computers that have been compromised by malicious software and are controlled by a cyber criminal. A botnet can consist of hundreds of thousands of computers that are used to send spam to mail servers or launch denial of service attacks on web severs. The owners of the infected computers, also called zombies, will often times be unaware that their computer has been infected with a malicious program such as a trojan horse and therefore do not know that their computer’s resources are being used in criminal acts. In the video below Ron Teixeira, executive director of the National Cybersecurity Alliance talks about how there needs to be a mixture of education and technology to defeat the botnet threat.

One very important thing you can do to make sure you do not have any malicious software on your computer that may contribute to a botnet is to run updated antivirus, firewall and spyware prevention programs on your computer. The best protection is a multilayer of security that is up to date and always running. You should also run a virus scan on your computer at least once a week. If you are not sure which type of software you should have, here are two articles that may assist you. The first comes from PC Magazine which published a review of different internet security programs on the market. The second is a slideshow of some free security applications that you may want to install on your computer. Remember, you may not even know that someone has even infected your computer and made it part of their botnet!

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