Tuesday, November 08, 2005

A Zombie In Every Home?

I've become a bit disillusioned with Michael Jackson in recent years, but I always thought the Thriller video was a classic. I could never take the zombies in it seriously though, and films like Shaun of the Dead haven't made them seem any scarier.

However, it appears that I (and you) should be treating zombies with more respect, if only because you may be looking straight at one! A recent article recounted an experiment in which Microsoft deliberately set up a zombie pc, put it online and waited to see what would happen. In the 3 weeks of the test, reseachers noted 5 million requests for connections to the machine, and attempts to send 18 million spam messages carrying advertising for 13,000 websites! The article makes the point that spam is not the only problem. Networks of zombie computers, or botnets, can be used to launch phishing attacks, seed new viruses, launch denial of service attacks and be put to other sinister uses.

Help is, however, at hand in the form of the FBI, those well known zombie killers. The boys in blue have recently put the creator of one zombie network in the slammer. Apparently he could be facing 50 years behind bars, which I think is much longer than he would get for murder in the UK!

Call me cynical if you like, but didn't I hear that Microsoft were moving more into the computer security business? And don't you think botnet is too cute and cuddly a name for a network of zombies?