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Michael Gracie

Imagine the botnet problem, now and then

If you think the whole botnet issue is bad now – zombiefied computers galore spewing more virus-laden pharmaceutical spam than you can shake a stick at – imagine what it will be like when everyone has one of these.

I guess the bright side is…if it is stuck in a closet with no monitor, you have an excuse when the police show up.

UPDATE: Here’s a roundup on the home server, for the curious.

Botnets hit the Sunday paper

I can’t help but smile with glee over this…

The issue of zombies and the problems they cause on the networks has hit the New York Times.

No, I am not happy because the New York Times is my favorite paper or anything; my joy comes from the awareness it is providing. Too many people just don’t get it (until the police show up)…

Serry Winkler, a sales representative in Denver, said that she had turned off the network-security software provided by her Internet service provider because it slowed performance to a crawl on her PC, which was running Windows 98. A few months ago four sheriff’s deputies pounded on her apartment door to confiscate the PC, which they said was being used to order goods from Sears with a stolen credit card. The computer, it turned out, had been commandeered by an intruder who was using it remotely.

That’s one way to find out your computer has been hijacked. And while reading the paper isn’t going to fix the problem, at least it might make you aware that one could exist.

UPDATE: Bruce Schneier agrees – popular attention is a good thing.

Happy New Year, from the zombies

Don’t believe anyone who wishes you a happy new year, at least if the greeting comes via email.

UPDATE: The “Happy New Year” worm is still spreading on the net.

Late to the punch…I say. You’d think those worms would know something about internet time (or is that the news I should be criticising?).

Time Magazine doesn’t know jack

Time Magazine punted this year, and declared their “Person of the Year” was you. Yes, you. It was supposedly the year of user generated content – unfortunately, the magazine missed the boat. They forgot that all the user generated content sucks (Spamroll included) – everyone creating that content was too busy fighting viruses to producing anything of value.

Damn it, 2006 wasn’t the year of user generated content – it was was the Year of the Zombies!

Well, maybe Time did get it right; they just didn’t know it.

UPDATE: Even Microsoft gets it. Now, let’s see if they do something about it, since last time I checked Linux and OS X installs weren’t getting hijacked too often.

CafePress returns from land of the dead

CafePress, that bastion of free speech you can slap on a t-shirt, was hit by a DDOS attack on Tuesday. They are, of course, back up now, and the holiday shopping binge continues.

I recollect CafePress being a .NET house – I guess hackers decided to leave Microsoft alone this year and go after their customers instead.

I wonder if those zombie networks are responsible for the Denver blizzard too, as the malls around here are just re-opening as well.

UPDATE: While CafePress is worried about staying up for the holiday season, Michael Arrington is wondering why they don’t use Flash. He must own Adobe stock.

Is your PC part of the walking dead?

You’ll never know if your PC has been zombified unless you check. IT Observer gives you a few clues, but I will make it even simpler.

Install a free copy of the ZoneAlarm firewall (and turn off the Windows firewall for a bit as well). Keep ZoneAlarm access messages on, and wait. If you start seeing all kinds of popups coming from your taskbar, with no applications active, that is likely the zombie talking. Those popups signify your computer trying to access the internet every which way from Sunday, with spamming and further infection attempts high on the priority list.

If you are an everyday joe, you can pick up some anti-virus tools to clean things up. If you are a Microsoft executive, you just reformat your hard drive and start over.

Continued zombie spew

The underground anti-spam crusaders can chase IP addresses and domain names from forged headers all they want, but they are likely going to catch some ghosts, or zombies that is.

MX Logic reports that for the third month in a row, more than 50% of all spam originated from zombie computers. This means that spam hunters could soon be blacklisting my grandma (I take that back – she’s on a Mac).

On Donner, on Blitzen, on Zombie

As if you were a bit skeptical about the idea that setting up a bigtime spam reporting system might not work that well, based on the fact that so much spam comes from zombied PCs whose owners have no idea what is going on, here’s something that might change your mind.

According to MX Logic, roughly 62% of spam came from zombies during the month of June, and it has been growing fast.
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Wishful thinking down under

I call this wishful thinking, because there is great software out there (like SpamAssassin) which still has trouble stopping spam. Nonetheless, the Australians think they can do a better job by getting email users involved in the fight, and are about to distribute some spam reporting software to assist.

Unfortunately, much of the spam you see in your inbox each day does not come from a bigtime spammer – it comes from their unknowing minions – meaning zombie computers.
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AOL not happy with themselves

AOL cannot be very happy with themselves right about now. Despite all the talk about how their network has been killing spam like no tomorrow, now they get to deal with more a more dangerous issue.

A recent study suggests that the AOL network leads ISPs in zombied computers.
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