Is Your Computer Part Of A Botnet? How Can You Tell?

botnetResearchers at a security software firm have discovered a spam campaign that targets Skype users and infects computer systems with a malware trojan. The campaign is currently affecting users in India, Japan and the Philippines, but is expected to quickly extend to other countries.

The attack sends a message to Skype users that incorporates Japanese characters and a shortened URL link. The link takes the user to a fraudulent domain to download an image file that is actually a Trojan type of malware. If the file is executed, the computer is linked to servers throughout the world, and information on the computer’s identity is recorded and sent to the hackers. The computer is now part of a network of compromised computers, likely to be used as a botnet.

This type of attack, like so many others, uses phishing by exploiting the user’s curiosity and faith in a well-known entity like Skype. Rene Millman “Trojan delivered as Skype message may sign up your computer for botnet, Malwarebytes finds,” http://www.itpro.co.uk (May 5, 2016).

Commentary

Although it may sound like “the Borg” in Star Trek, “recruiting” computers to work as a botnet or zombie computer is a common strategy used by cybercriminals, and some say one of the most significant Internet threats today.

Malware downloaded to a computer without the user’s knowledge connects that system with thousands or even millions of other computers, all controlled by a remote hacker. The hacker uses this “robotic network” to send massive amounts of spam messages, host phishing websites, or to shut down websites by overloading the site with more requests than it can manage. Once the hacker has established a sizable botnet, they may even try to sell access to the network to other cybercriminals.

If your computer has been infected with a botnet program, you will notice problems with your computer’s performance; i.e., slower speed, frequent crashes, recurring error messages, longer start-up and shut-down times and a web browser that continually shuts down. Anti-virus scans and rootkit software can detect malware, including botnet malware, on your system, allowing you to delete all associated files.

The best way to protect yourself from becoming part of a botnet is to keep software updated, particularly the operating system. Most malware infections come through known vulnerabilities.

Source: Hartford Help – May 25, 2016

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