TECH NOUS Beware Of The Botnets

We live in sick, sick internet world. It’s not enough that hackers throw viruses, worms and other disgusting sounding malicious threats at our computer systems – we now have the latest headline grabber, the ‘botnet’. Yes, just when you thought your computer system was safe, tucked in behind those vigilant firewalls and anti-virus programs – along comes another nasty variant.
According to the security whizzes, botnets are armies of compromised or ‘zombie’ PCs that are used to launch denial of service (DoS) attacks and send spam. Their low profile and complexity make them difficult to monitor – and they can exploit security weaknesses exposed by worms.
“Botnets form large, rapidly evolving families and, if left unchecked, will proliferate until much of the internet resembles mosaic of botnets,” says Peter Croft, managing director of Clearswift Asia Pacific.
Jump on the net and you’ll learn quite bit about these botnets. According to one estimate, more than 100,000 PCs are recruited into botnets every week without the owner’s knowledge. Botnets send masses of spam until they are blacklisted by anti-spam firms, and then once blacklisted, the owner sells the botnet to people who launch DoS attacks. Crime has whole new face.
Clearly it’s getting to be real battleground out there in cyberspace, what with the growing sophistication of phishing scams, the trend towards multi-functional ‘malware’ attacks such as Trojans and viruses, and now botnets.
So who’s winning the war of the worldwide web? Some would say it’s us, the good guys, and certainly some progress has been made. According to Croft, 2004 was beachhead year “with organisations fighting back against criminal groups with successful arrests, lawsuits and cooperative action between ISPs and watchdog bodies”.
But he’s still anticipating number of high profile security breaches over the next 12 months. “Business can no longer rely on firewalls and anti-virus technology for protection – multi-layered defence is the only way forward,” he says. “Content analysis and filtering, firewalls, intrusion detection systems and anti-virus programs all represent significant components of the full suit of armour.”
So just like the sport of jousting back in the days when “knights were bold”, it’s important not to expose any chinks in your armour, because chances are something nasty will get in and wreak havoc with your computer system. If it has been some time since you’ve had the security of your computer network tested, maybe you should do something about it today. There’s nothing that spoils your day more than knowing that something has breached your defences, and you’re staring down the barrel of considerable bill from your IT consultant to rectify matters.
And speaking of consultants – if my personal experience is anything to go by, today’s Generation Y (those in their late teens) can prove invaluable to have around the home when it comes to sorting out computer-related problems. All those years of housing, clothing, and feeding the little darlings (with very little in return) can finally pay dividends as they effortlessly restore or rejuvenate your precious home PC. Darn it, they’re just naturals at it. I’m sure my Generation Yer can even determine if my PC is masquerading as an evil botnet.

Glenn Baker is regular contributor to
Email: [email protected]

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