Zombie Generation: The spreading infection

ZDNet Australia logo: click for the Zombie Generation article

“If you had to identify the biggest single issue confronting the security and safety and the confidence of the internet these days, particularly in the commercial space, you could only point to zombie botnets as the major concern,” says Peter Coroneos, chief executive of the Internet Industry Association (IIA).

On Wednesday, ZDNet.com.au published my feature story Zombie Generation: The spreading infection, which kicks off with a backgrounder on zombie botnets and then some worrying trends.

  • The malware used to create botnets is getting more sophisticated. Traditional stay-safe-online messages are no longer adequate — if they ever were.
  • Young people’s eagerness to share cool new things amongst their peers is natural human behaviour, but it runs counter to the “don’t share” messages.
  • It’s easy for kids to break out of the security restrictions of the laptops supplied under the Australian Government’s Digital Education Revolution program — something we also spoke about on Patch Monday.

Australian ISPs are now developing a more formal code of practice to detect and deal with their customers’ zombie computers.

I also posted a lengthy rebuttal to some fool trying to over-simplify this as “a Microsoft problem”.

Crikey Clarifier: Spam

Crikey logo

If you think spam is about selling the products being advertised, in most cases you’d be wrong. The real spam business is very different.

I’m in Crikey today with a Crikey Clarifier: What is spam and where does it come from? Amongst other things, I point out:

An estimated 94% of all email is spam: over 100 billion messages every day. Some of that is advertising by businesses who don’t realise it’s wrong or, imagining a sudden surge of business, don’t care.

But over 80% of spam is sent by fewer than 200 people using networks of “borrowed” computers called botnets. These zombie computers have been infected with a virus or Trojan horse that hands control of the computer to the bad guys.

It’s free for all to read.