Don’t let your PC become a zombie

by Larry Magid

Twitter has confirmed that its massive outage on August 6th and subsequent intermittent problems were due to an ongoing denial-of-service attack. Facebook also “encountered network issues related to an apparent distributed denial-of-service attack, that resulted in degraded service for some users,” according to a company spokesperson.

Typically a DoS attack, which is often called a distributed denial-of-service attack, results when multiple computers simultaneously try to access the site in question. Usually the reason that happens is because the attacking PCs are infected with malware that does the dirty work for whoever is behind the attack.

As Symantec blogger Marian Merritt pointed out, “It’s often the case that DDoS attacks come from computers infected with bots, turning them into zombie computers doing their cybercriminal’s bidding. ”

You can help prevent your PC from being part of such an insidious scheme by:

* Using a good anti-malware suite from a reputable vendor such as Symantec, TrendMicro, McAfee, ZoneAlarm, or CA. You can find trial versions of such programs as well as the excellent AVG-Anti Virus Free Edition at CNET’s

* Making sure your operating system has the latest patches. Visit Microsoft and Apple security pages for information.

* Avoid clicking on e-mail links that take you to Web sites you’re not familiar with (malware is often distributed through “drive-by downloads” from unreputable or infected sites)

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