Computer Crime Research Center


Zombies send spam

Date: January 16, 2007

Email inboxes are being clogged with what seems like a huge increase in unwanted spam messages. Consumers may wonder where all these messages could be coming from. In truth, they most likely are coming from other consumers' computers -- maybe even their own.

When a hacker hijacks a PC, it becomes what is known as a "zombie computer," meaning it operates at the will of the hacker, who assumes control by downloading a malicious code. The scope of the problem was illustrated in late 2005 when Microsoft engineers, working in a lab, set out to create their own zombie computer. It was frighteningly easy.
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