Botnets Take Over Your Computer For Evil

Red Tape Chronicles has an interesting series of articles about botnets, groups of hijacked computers that can be controlled remotely to send spam, viruses, conduct break-ins, host phishing sites, and of course, commandeer more computers. If you don’t take adequate steps to protect your computer, it could become some criminal’s slave.

IS YOUR COMPUTER A CRIMINAL?
VIRUS GANG WARFARE SPILLS ONTO THE NET
WHO’S BEHIND CRIMINAL BOT NETWORKS?

You can help protect your computer from botnets by practicing safe surfing:
• Only install software you know to be safe
• Protect yourself with programs like ZoneAlarm (firewall, anti-virus), Spysweeper (anti-spyware, anti-virus), and Ad-Aware (anti-spyware, anti-malware).
• Remember that visiting “questionable” sites is a sure way to attract trojans.

— BEN POPKEN

(Photo: Dan Coulter)

Comments

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  1. PatrickIs2Smart says:

    “Questionable” sites? Hmm… I guess I’ll have to put an end to my FleshBot addiction… =(

  2. darman says:

    One word… Firefox.

    Well, three more… and NoScript extension.

  3. digital0129 says:

    What I don’t get is that you included a link to Webroot, one of the worst anti-spyware programs out there (and it costs money), while throughly avoiding two of the best programs out there: Spybot S&D [http://www.spybot.info/] and Adaware [http://lavasoft.de/]. Both of which are totally free, and a hundred times more effective at removing malignant programs.

  4. smith186 says:

    The most basic security step, if you have a broadband connection, is to have a NAT router – even if you don’t plan on sharing your connection to multiple PCs. While it won’t replace a software firewall, it will definitely make someone that isn’t computer savvy significantly safer.

    The other basic item that should be on that list is, for Windows users, to make sure that Automatic Updates are turned on or that you manually run Windows Update at least once a month. There are way too many exploits people fall victim to that could be prevented by this simple step.

  5. mac-phisto says:

    a great way to combat this in windows (anything after NT) is to create an admin profile & a seperate user profile. only allow the admin to install programs & change system files/affect the registry & disable these abilities in the user profile. then only use the non-admin profile to browse the net & use programs.

  6. hemaphore says:

    2 free anti-virus software products (for home use):
    AVG Anti-Virus and avast! Anti-Virus

    Also, Microsoft has a free anti-spyware called Windows Defender.

    Microsoft Windows Firewall is also free but it only comes with whatever OS it supports…

    Last but not least, IE 7 (if you upgrade to it, or are running it currently) comes with phishing filter…Download at Microsoft’s site as well…

    These are suggestions only, I’m sure someone will flame me for them. Sorry in advance..

  7. hemaphore says:

    also, mac-phisto’s admin/user account comment is a good practice as well. i use that with my mother’s computer and it keeps her out of trouble (and saves me a lot of headaches!!) :)

  8. storm says:

    You forgot:

    • Switch to Mac OS X.

  9. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    @storm: Theres always one….grrr.

  10. mattshu says:

    @Nemesis_Enforcer:

    What’s a virus?

    …Now there are two.

  11. BII says:

    Of course you can always switch to a safer operating system like Linux, BSD, or OSX, the first 2 being available for free.

    Moreover, you can switch to Firefox for web surfing )reduce the risk of browser hijacking, etc), and use something other than Outlook/Outlook Express for email, like Thunderbird.

  12. Matt says:

    How do people feel about Comodo’s free firewall?

  13. JohnMc says:

    mac-phisto, I wish what you mention in your post was true, but there are many bots out that that don’t care one whit about who is on the machine. They do their work at the kernel level spun off a process that had a security hole but already has the appropriate priviliges in the Admin acocunt. That’s why you usually see most probing occuring to see if MS SQL is loaded on Windows machines.

    But people need to take this seriously. Computer security follows the ‘pool rule’. E.g. if you build a pool and don’t put up a fence and a child drowns that’s manslaughter. If you do not take reasonable steps to prevent your machine from being taken over then you, not the perp who loaded it, will be charged in any subsequent actions by those harmed by your negelict.

  14. Buran says:

    @Nemesis_Enforcer: And what’s wrong with the suggestion? If there’s a product out there that is full of security holes, “use something else” is a perfectly valid suggestion.

    I like Macs because I can still run Photoshop, Aperture etc. but I still have BSD inside if I want to use that, and the security is good. However, if you do not want to buy a new machine, why not try Linux? Installation and config is much easier than it once was, and you can try a ‘Live CD’ boot-CD installation first if you don’t want to commit yet.

    So really, what’s with the sneering at perfectly-valid suggestions? I can’t help but interpret a lot of that as ‘I’m too lazy/scared to try something new’.

  15. JohnMc says:

    My approach is to use a seperate server with firewall software enabled. NAT is turned on so my backend clients have private addresses. And I make sure the Internet facing box is a linux device. Product I like is ClarkConnect. It proivdes a IP firewall and they do the automatic security updates for me. It also provides Windows file services, email, DNS and DHCP all on a single box. Other simple protection schemes:

    - Have your passwords with leading numbers if possible. Most brute force attacks use common names first.

    - Go to http://www.GRC.com and read his security now section. He has lots of tips on how to make your windows box more scure. He also has tools to test your system for vulnerabilities.

    - When not in use turn your PC off. Can’t infect a down machine.

    - Look in the Process Tab of your machine. Is MSSQL running and you don’t recollect ever loading it? Find out why. Its the biggest vulnerability MS has delivered.

  16. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    @Buran: Calm down killer…it was a joke. I don’t hate macs I just don’t use one cause most of my software is PC and I don’t want to use a Emulator. I know there are a lot of Mac haters and Windows haters, I was just baiting the trap..lol.

    Plus I can’t get over the image I have when I hear Mac of being in middle school with that big beige box and eye searing green icons of the mac’s we had to use.

  17. mac-phisto says:

    @JohnMc: good point. i was making the assumption that the user is also downloading applicable updates to fix security issues. THIS IS IMPORTANT! DO IT REGULARLY!

    i also use trendmicro’s hijackthis (freeware) regularly, BUT BE ADVISED: hijackthis is advanced software that makes permanent & possibly damaging changes to your registry. changes should only be attempted by someone who is knowledgeable &/or has consulted experts.

    to the mac users: i like my mac too, but they are not invulnerable. MOAB proved that. widgets vulnerability proved that. quicktime exploit proved that. there may be less malware out there for you, but there are still worms, keystroke loggers & spyware capable of infecting macs. hence all the recent security updates.

  18. superlayne says:

    href=”#c1242408″>darman: My IT guy won’t let me get Firefox. D:@

  19. BII says:

    @superlayne:

    you can always get portable firefox, free and you simply put it on a USB port.