We are in the midst of a zombie epidemic that shows no signs of slowing. During the second half of July, the volume of spam e-mails containing variations on the Storm worm increased tenfold. The result? A zombie network estimated by IT security company SecureWorks at more than 1.7 million PCs -- big enough to do serious damage to the Net.
The degree of your personal risk depends almost entirely on what you do and don't do online, says Bill Rosenkrantz, director of product management at Symantec.
“On one hand, the hackers are definitely out there, they are very creative, and there is significant financial gain available to them,” Rosenkrantz says. “On the other hand, you have decent control over that. If you don't randomly download files onto your system, have a full security solution on your desktop, and keep your browser and your OS updated, the risk is probably a 3 on a scale of 5. If you don't do any of that, your risk is probably closer to a 5.”
In the case of Storm, the solution is relatively straightforward. Because the zombies connect to one another via a P2P network, IT managers can mitigate damage by blocking each PC's ability to use p-to-p networking.
In short, be careful out there.