Computer Crime Research Center


Zombie computers the biggest source of spam

Date: May 07, 2006

According to Internet security company, Panda Software, zombie computers are now the biggest source of spam on the Internet.
A zombie is a computer infected with malware that enables the sender of the malware to take control of it. The malware most frequently used to convert computers into zombies are 'bots' - Trojans designed to automatically respond to commands of their creators.

Panda Software's finding comes in the wake of a call by the OECD for better education of consumer users of computers to ensure they have the knowledge to install and maintain the necessary anti-virus and other security software on their machines.Panda re-iterates the OECD's claim that spam is now much more than a mere nuisance. "Spam has evolved - it is now becoming a serious threat with potentially disastrous consequences because cybercrooks are using spam to propagate phishing attacks...The fraudsters usually aim to gather data for online banking services to perform fraudulent financial operations."Panda Software points out that bots cause problems not only for those receiving spam, but also for the owner of the infected computer, because any investigation will lead directly to the zombie computer, while the real attacker's identity will remain unknown.Panda contends that traditional antivirus solutions provide only limited protection because "malware programmers try to ensure that their creations go unnoticed for as long as possible by both users and security companies... [They] exploit the limitations of traditional antivirus solutions, which can only detect previously identified malicious code."
It recommends complementing traditional antivirus solutions with technologies that are able to detect malicious code by analysing the behaviour of the infected computer and identify abnormalities.
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