Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Hackers Grow Armies of Zombie PCs

Filed under
Security

Attackers are becoming increasingly aggressive as they look to grow their zombie armies of infected PCs, according to antivirus vendor McAfee. This week, the company reported that the number of systems infected with malicious software that allows the PC to be used for unauthorized purposes jumped by 303 percent during the second quarter of 2005 from the previous quarter.

Whereas high-profile attacks such as the MyDoom worm in 2004 generally left no doubt as to whether the user's system was infected, attackers are now using more subtle techniques, often invisibly seizing control of a machine with tiny programs called "bots" that await instructions from their creators, according to Vincent Gullotto, vice president of McAfee's Anti-virus and Vulnerability Emergency Response Team.

These bots allow the infected machine, sometimes called a "zombie," to be used for a variety of illegal purposes, such as sending spam or participating in a denial of service attack against a Web site, Gullotto says. "You're not hearing about a major outbreak every month, but people are not aware that there has become a much more subversive way that virus writers are spreading around the Internet," he says.

On the Increase

Researchers with Gullotto's team recorded nearly 13,000 cases of attempted bot hijackings, up from about 3000 during the first quarter of 2005. The company also reported that the number of adware and spyware programs was up 12 percent when compared to the first quarter of 2005.

Though McAfee says that all sorts of criminals are now involved in hacking, the company has noticed that money, rather than fame or notoriety, has increasingly been a motivating factor in attacks.

Rather than crashing users' systems or sending out huge quantities of e-mail, attackers are using malicious software such as the Mytob worm to install adware on personal computers. And organized criminals are emerging as a new and increasingly effective source of sophisticated attacks, Gullotto says. "There's a whole new ballgame that's being played."

By Robert McMillan
IDG News Service

More in Tux Machines

Facebook-squishing Indian regulator's next move: Open source code

Fresh from squashing Facebook's effort to grab the enormous India market, the sub-continent's regulator has another goal in mind: open source software. Speaking at the India Digital Summit this week, chairman of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), Ram Sewak Sharma, told attendees: "No service can be hostage to a particular technology." He then went on to explicitly support the broader adoption of open source software, arguing that it would help the booming digital economy in India from being locked into buying from a specific company and enable a broader and more equitable internet for all. "Any technology that is deployed for connectivity must be interoperable and the open standards framework and the principles it entails are extremely important," he argued. Read more

Ubuntu 16.04 LTS to Let Users Change the Visibility of App Menus in Unity Panel

We've already told you that we're running the latest Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) operating system, right? Well, guess what? Earlier today, Canonical pushed a bunch of important updates to the upcoming distribution. Read more

GNOME 3.19.90 beta tarballs due (and more)

Hello all, We would like to inform you about the following: * GNOME 3.19.90 beta tarballs due * API/ABI, UI and Feature Addition Freeze; String Change Announcement Period * New APIs must be fully documented * Writing of release notes begins Tarballs are due on 2016-02-15 before 23:59 UTC for the GNOME 3.19.90 beta release, which will be delivered on Wednesday. Modules which were proposed for inclusion should try to follow the unstable schedule so everyone can test them. Please make sure that your tarballs will be uploaded before Monday 23:59 UTC: tarballs uploaded later than that will probably be too late to get in 3.19.90. If you are not able to make a tarball before this deadline or if you think you'll be late, please send a mail to the release team and we'll find someone to roll the tarball for you! Read more

US Air Force's Secure LPS (Lightweight Portable Security) Linux OS Gets Updated

Lightweight Portable Security (LPS), a thin Linux kernel-based operating system that creates a secure end node from trusted media on almost any PC, has been updated recently to version 1.6.4. Read more