The botnet bottleneck

After reading an article recently about the botnet epidemic in cyber space, I had a few thoughts;

On a Windows PC, it is easy to monitor the amount of processor and memory usage.  If you are not doing anything with the computer, this should be in the low single digits for the processor.  The drive light, which flashes when the hard drive is operating, should not be flashing frequently or for long periods.  These are measurements of the machines operation directly, and are indicitive of whether it is writing and sending email, scanning your hard drive, or phoning home.  I believe that the same functions are monitored via a control panel program on Apple machines, and Linux usually includes such properties.

Somewhere up the line from a PC is a network server, which processes all traffic going to and from the PC.  Analyizing that traffic would reveal if any of the machines served by that device are generating large amounts of outgoing traffic.  When downloading a movie, the traffic is large, but in one direction.  When spamming, the traffic is large, but in both directions.  High outbound traffic is unusual, and should be investigated.

Putting your PC to sleep should include the processor and the hard drives.  If it does not, your PC may be infected, a zombie, under the control of a person or persons who are using it to steal from other people, or to flood the Web with garbage.

The World Wide Web, what many people still call ‘the internet’, is a world treasure, a resource of communication unparalleled in human history.  People who use it to exploit others hurt all of us, not just their victims.  Your computer may be operating a lot slower than it should, but how would you be sure?  Unless a machine is locked up, many folks will put up with it, thinking that the reason is innocent.

A final, and definite way to prevent your computer from being used is to turn your Web modem, whether it be cable or phone, off when you are not on-line.  Although inconvenient it assures that no traffic passes from your computer to the Web.


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