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News

Sophos issues Halloween warning to clean up computers

Sophos : 30 October, 2009  (Technical Article)
The Sophos "kill-a-zombie-day" aims to educate users in preventing their computers from becoming part of a botnet
IT security and data protection company, Sophos, has called on computer users around the world to participate in 'Kill-A-Zombie Day' on Saturday 31st October, also known as Halloween.

Whilst we are not quite living in the zombie film 28 Days Later, Sophos is seeing the world coming under attack from zombies of the techie variety. Millions of computers around the world, in homes and business premises, are - without the knowledge of their owners - under the control of cybercriminals who commandeer the PCs to send spam, distribute malware, and commit identity theft.

Billions of spam messages are sent every day, with over 99% determined to be relayed from innocent users' computers that have been hijacked and turned into a 'zombie'. Hackers control networks of zombie computers, known as a botnet, in order to silently send out adverts that peddle sexual enhancement drugs or questionable financial deals, distribute scareware attacks to trick users out of their credit card details, access your social networking accounts, and spread further malicious attacks.

'If your computer has been turned into a zombie then a hacker has complete control of your PC. That means they can read everything you type, see every website you visit, as well as spam out adverts through your internet connection without your knowledge,' explained Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. 'Next time you receive spam in your inbox remind yourself this - that an advert for Viagra could have been sent from a little old lady's computer in Skegness, and she doesn't know anything about it. It's all too easy to be part of the spam and malware problem, but it's time for people to take a stand.'

'The answer is to keep your computer's security up-to-date with anti-virus software, security patches and firewalls. We need more people around the world to wake up to this truly global problem,' continued Cluley. 'With nights getting longer and colder, many people will be at home this weekend and Halloween would be the perfect opportunity to scare hackers off your computer by scanning it for threats.'

Sophos recommends companies automatically update their corporate virus protection, and run a consolidated solution at their email and web gateways to defend against viruses and spam.
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