Sunday, 17 June 2007

Botnets: The Story of How My PC Became a Zombie!

Botnets: The Story of How My PC Became a Zombie!

Several weeks ago, I received a call from my ISP's Security
Department. The lady, who was a little short on etiquette,
launched into this short story about having to suspend my
account due to the fact that someone had hijacked my email login
and password. Well, I was at that time not on the Internet but
was at my desk so I cranked up the old PC and hit connect on my
DSL icon. Well, that's as far as I got: there was no way I was
going to connect using my ISP's icon.

Oh no, "Don't tell me I have been relegated once again to using
a dial up account," I said to myself. My DSL is slow enough as
it is and I have the fastest available broadband connection
there is so I can't imagine how slow dial up is going to be?

The Security Agent told me that all was not lost. But there were
certain things that I had to do in order to "plug the hole" that
the hacker had crawled through. The first thing I had to do was
to make sure that my firewall was activated and working
properly. And if I did not have a firewall, I was going to have
to find a suitable one and upload and install it to my system.
In my case, I already have a firewall in place: however, I did
go into preferences and set the filters to high, which makes
them quite a bit more sensitive and makes my PCless vulnerable
to a hackers breaking through the protection that is in place.

Although I had only recently changed my password for access to
this account, I also had to do so again. Actually, once Security
reactivated my account, they had already switched passwords for
me so all I had to do is go in and change it to something I

As a next step, if I did not have a current and up to date virus
protection program, I would have to buy and install one of those
too. This crook of a hacker could have cost me a couple of
hundred dollars in hard cold cash just in software costs alone,
not to mention the damage he was doing by controlling my PC
email and using my bandwidth. Fortunately, I also had a current
anti-virus software program running so I did not have to buy
one. (A Lot of good it did me, huh? I guess everything has its

The primary reason my ISP chose my account to shut down was due
to the fact that my account had all of a sudden received several
thousand complaints. The assumption is that the hackers used a
botnet of zombies to compromise my email account in order to
send out a large quantity of spam emails, many of which filed
complaints with my ISP. I didn't know about this sort of thing
before but found that it is quite normal for hackers to gain
access to a remote computers email account, then set up fake
email addresses and then they hit the send button and plaster
the Internet with their viruses, worms or Trojan horses. In my
case, there about 15 bogus email addresses on my account. They
must have sent out hundreds of thousands of spam emails from my
email address before my ISP was tipped off.

Unknown to me, my computer had been enlisted into a botnet (a
collection of robots or bots which run autonomously). The term
botnet generally refers to a collection of compromised computers
running programs. These botnets are run in the background so the
average computer user is not aware of their presence until
notified by their ISP Security people like I was. Each computer
that is compromised is referred to as a zombie computer. Zombie
computers are machines that have been compromised by a super
cracker, a computer virus, or a Trojan horse. A botnet (network)
is made of a multitude of zombie computers, often times hundreds
of zombie computers.

Zombies are used extensively to send email spam: in 2006 an
astounding estimated 80%-85% of email spam was delivered by
botnets through their zombie computer networks. When a spammer
uses a zombie computer to send spam email, it allows them to
avoid detection and also reduces their bandwidth costs as they
are using your email account to send these nefarious spam
emails. So there is also theft of services involved with botnets

If you are notified that your system has been compromised there
are ways to rid yourself of the zombie designation. The very
first thing, as mentioned, is to ensure that you have an
anti-virus program running and that your anti-virus software is
current and up to date. You must make sure that you have set
your software up to update automatically in order for it to be
able to catch the most recent viruses that may infect your PC.
Then you need to run your virus protection program and clean out
any virus that is found. If you do not have an anti-virus
program or if you have a hard time spending the $50.00 or more
most software companies will charge you, then may I recommend
that you go to AVG dot com and download their free anti-virus
software. It is reputed to be every bit as good as the paid
kind. Actually, I recommended to my daughter recently that she
install AVG and she is delighted with it.

Another critical step to take is to ensure that you also have a
firewall set up to protect your PC from hacker attacks. The
firewalls main function is to isolate one network (compartment)
from another in your PC but still allow traffic to flow but to
make a long story short, it detects an attempt by a hacker to
access and control your system and blocks same from doing so. If
you need a firewall but have a hard time digesting the cost of
the more popular brands, then may I suggest that you go to and download their free firewall software. You may
also wish to check out the Comodo free firewall software which
can be found by going to

In order to learn more about these topics, you wish to run a
keyword search for botnets, zombie computers, spammers or spam
email or any other appropriate term you can think of. Thanks for

About the author:
Jimmy Oakley-Author-2007- Jimmy Oakley is an Internet Marketer
that markets many of the most sought after Advance Email
Marketing and Internet Marketing Courses online: the courses he
markets are continuosly updated and never outdated. Learn the
right ways of marketing on the Internet at the most acceptable
prices you will find! Visit his Grand Slam Special Event now!
Jimmy invites you to visit

Author: Jimmy Oakley


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