From:         Bob Rankin 
Subject:      TOURBUS - 02 Aug 2005 - Zombies / Buying a Computer


The Internet Tourbus - U.S. Library of Congress ISSN #1094-2239
Copyright © Bob Rankin and Patrick Crispen - All rights reserved

Has your computer been turned into a zombie? Find out what that means, and what to do about it, in this issue of TOURBUS. We also have some practical advice on how to buy a new computer, so read on!

Must... Eat... Braaains!!!

In a recent AskBobRankin article I wrote: "If you use the Internet, you simply MUST stay up to date with the system patches that come out in response to the privacy and security exploits that are discovered every week. Failure to do so is an open invitation to hackers and crackers to invade your privacy and enslave your computer in a spam spewing network."


The term "zombie" refers to a computer that has been compromised by a virus or other malware, so that it will perform tasks like sending spam or participating in denial of service attacks under the direction of an Evil Hacker.

Viruses, trojan horses and spyware are so prevalent now that affected zombie computers (ordinary PCs in homes and businesses) are thought to account for the delivery of up to 80% of all spam worldwide. Hackers can also create networks of zombie computers and wreak havoc with coordinated denial of service attacks that cripple targeted websites for hours or days with a flood of data.

A virus or trojan running on your PC has access to the same commands and files as you, so it can do anything you can, including installing other software, sending emails, deleting files, or snooping around for passwords and personal information.

How to De-Zombify Your PC

In most cases, the owners of zombie computers are not aware that their systems have been compromised. If your computer seems to be running a lot slower than usual, or you cannot access anti-virus websites, you should run a thorough virus and spyware scan immediately.

My articles "How can I avoid computer viruses?" and "Spy, Counter-Spy" will help to demystify the process of finding, installing and running anti-virus and anti-spyware software.


Buying a New Computer

A few days ago a reader asked me this question:

> I teach senior citizens in a community-based free computer lab.
> They often ask what to look for when buying a computer, and many
> are on a limited budget. What would you suggest?

The good news is that computer prices have dropped a lot over the past few years, and the computing power you get for your money is going up! I don't recommend used computers for anyone, because the rate of change of computer technology will render most systems nearly obsolete within a couple years.

If you're a computer novice, wondering what kind of computer, monitor, hard drive, memory, and operating system you should get, read my "How to Buy a Computer" article on AskBobRankin for some helpful pointers.


That's all for now, see you next time! -- Bob Rankin

The Internet Tourbus - U.S. Library of Congress ISSN #1094-2239
Copyright © Bob Rankin and Patrick Crispen - All rights reserved
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