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

Leftovers: Gaming

Open Source Software: 10 Go To Solution for Small Businesses

While closed-source operating systems such as Windows and Mac OS may still dominate the OS market, not everyone can afford the high costs that they entail. For small- and medium-sized enterprises where every penny matters, taking advantage of open-source software such as Ubuntu’s Linux is a good bet to boost productivity and cost effectiveness. The fact that open-source softwares have evolved to become somewhat user-friendly and sleek also helps a good deal. Read more

Linux 4.11-rc8

So originally I was just planning on releasing the final 4.11 today, but while we didn't have a *lot* of changes the last week, we had a couple of really annoying ones, so I'm doing another rc release instead. I did get fixes for the issues that popped up, so I could have released 4.11 as-is, but it just doesn't feel right. It's not like another week of letting this release mature will really hurt. The most noticeable of the issues is that we've quirked off some NVMe power management that apparently causes problems on some machines. It's not entirely clear what caused the issue (it wasn't just limited to some NVMe hardware, but also particular platforms), but let's test it. Read more Also: Linux 4.11 delayed for a week by NVMe glitches and 'oops fixes' Linux 4.11 Pushed Back: 4.11-rc8 Released

Themes for Ubuntu

  • Flattiance is a Flat Fork of Ubuntu’s Ambiance Theme
    Flattiance is pitched as a “semi-flat fork” of the Ubuntu Ambiance theme. You know, the one that ships out of the box and by default. On the whole Flattiance keeps to the same color palette, with dark browns and orange accents, but it ditches the gradient in app headers in favour of a solid block.
  • A quick look at some essential GNOME Shell tweaks and extensions
    Now that Ubuntu is moving to GNOME Shell, many people will get a bit of a shock at how different the workflow is from Unity to Shell. Here’s a quick look at some essentials to get you going.