Enslaved computer or zombie PC, zombie computer is a computer infected by a malicious botnet or other malware that performs tasks such as spying sensitive information, sending spam or performing a DDOS attack without awareness of the computer’s owner.
How your computer can be enslaved?
Virtually any device connected to the Internet can be enslaved. So not only desktops, laptops, tablets, phones but also routers, printers, web cameras and also smart refrigerator or smart TV. The device is infected through a virus or malicious botnet can infect it over the internet. They misuse the fact that the owners do not change default passwords set by manufacturers (for example default passwords for all router are easily traceable on sites such RouterPassword.com). Virus or botnet after the infection takes over the control, respectively can send messages or perform other tasks remotely. Typicall missuse is spamming or the device is used in the farm of such controlled devices to perform DDoS attacks.
Devices are enslaved mostly via:
- Downloading applications from unknown or unverified source (an attacker adds malware to the application and you just install it along)
- Via email or via various messaging applications
- Via social networks
How to prevent computer enslavement ?
A basic defense against the enslavement is to avoid the most obvious and most used weaknesses that attackers use. It’s not bulletproof but it definitely helps you to avoid the most common attacks.
- Change the default password (and username if possible) on your devices
- Regularly update your operating system, and most web browsers and their plugins (attacks often lead to old versions of plugins, for example. Flash player)
- Update the firmware on the devices connected to the Internet. Absolutely crucial device is your router.
Certainly very important is to use good antivirus software to help prevent the infection of your machine or your network.