Are You Part of the Botnet Army?

As malware becomes more prevalent, the number of infected computers continues to grow, some of which are becoming part of large-scale botnets. So what can you do to protect yourself from joining the “botnet Army?”

A botnet is a string of computers that are each infected with malware. The infected computers are linked back to a command and control server that can command the infected computers. Often, users have no idea they are part of a botnet.

Perhaps one of the best-known botnets is Conficker, which has befuddled security experts since it was discovered in 2008. The Conficker botnet is reputed by some to include around 6 million machines. However, the botnet the malware created has only been used once. While there are some guesses as to who distributed the malware and controls the botnet, no one is certain.

In an effort to combat the Conficker botnet, a loose coalition of security researchers has formed, dubbing themselves the Conficker Working Group. To date, every success the group has is quickly undone by the Conficker controller.

“Conficker typically disables the automatic updates for the Microsoft Windows operating system and turns off traditional anti-virus, but few business organizations are aware of this,” Rodney Joffe, director of the Conficker Working Group, recently told Computer Weekly.

The Conficker Working Group, along with security companies, have released some guidelines to determine if your computer is infected by Conficker.

One example is the “Conficker Eye Chart,” which contains websites that Conficker generally blocks and how the websites will appear when a machine is infected. Conficker, like other malware, often attempts to block users from accessing security websites that might help them to remove infection.

Companies like Microsoft also provides patches and scanning assistance for individuals who believe their machines may be infected. A simple method of protecting oneself is to make sure that all updates to your machine have been made and that your anti-virus program is up-to-date.

Also, if your computer seems to be more sluggish than usual, it is possible that the machine is infected. However, even without such tell-tale signs, infection is still a distinct possibility so be sure to scan and update your system.

For more on Conficker, click here

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