Beware Zombie Computers this Halloween

When you sit on your computer or other internet connected device this Halloween you may not realise that it might have been compromised to join the ranks of the undead!

Ok, so it won’t suddenly come to life and try to eat you, but on the web and without your knowledge your device might be being used by a hacker for nefarious purposes.

A zombie in the cyber world is an internet connected device that has been infected by malware which is then used to carry out malicious acts such as sending spam emails or being used in a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack.

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When several of these zombie devices are infected and under the control of a hacker they become members of a botnet. This group of compromised devices all working together can create a world of pain to any targeted internet connected network.

Over the last few years, the use of botnets has grown due to the fact that they are readily available to purchase or even just to hire as a service.  

With the growing use of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, the number of opportunities for infection has never been higher.

Case study: Mirai botnet

In October 2016 a massive DDoS attack left large parts of the US East Coast unable to gain internet access. The cause, a piece of Malware called Mirai that was designed to enslave poorly secured IoT devices like security cameras, digital video recorders (DVRs) and routers for use in large-scale online attacks.

Originally created to exploit Minecraft players it soon got out into the wild. As a result, it was used in a number of huge DDoS attacks, the most infamous of which was the one against internet infrastructure firm Dyn.

Multiple attacks caused parts of Europe and large swathes of North America to suffer internet connection problems, and loss of services from other providers. The impact for Dyn was that as many as 8% of their customers switched to a competitor. As well as the financial impact the company also received a knock to its reputation.

How to defend against Zombies

Unlike in the movies you can’t run away from the shambling hoards. Instead, you need to implement the cyber basics to reduce the chances of your machine becoming one of the walking dead.

Here are a few ways you can defend yourself and your organisation –

  • Regularly patch your devices and systems with the latest security patches. CyberScore™ can ensure that you never miss a vital update.
  • Monitor networks for abnormal activity
  • Use the most up to date antivirus software and keep it updated.
  • Be aware of suspicious emails. Phishing remains the most common route for malware to infiltrate and infect a system.
  • Ensure that only users that need access have access.

Even though most victims are aware that their device has become a zombie there are a few signs that may suggest they have been compromised the machine might run very slowly as it sends out massive amounts of spam or attacks against web pages. Your internet service provider might cancel your service without warning or, in the worst-case scenario, you could be investigated by the authorities for your infected devices’ suspicious activity.

Doing the cyber basics can go a long in fending off the zombie hoards.

For further reading visit–

The Benefits of Regular Network Scanning

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