Family Safety

A Zombie Invasion

2
By on Oct 28, 2010

As Halloween approaches, mass amounts of zombies have been discovered all over the world – from Johannesburg to Kansas to Vancouver.  However, these zombies aren’t the living dead you’ll see asking for treats; it’s the trick crafted by cybercriminals, invisible to the naked eye, and  may very well be haunting your computer.

McAfee Labs has compiled the top international, U.S. and Canadian cities with the highest population of zombie-infected computers.

A zombie is a computer that has been infected with malicious software, or bots, that allow a third party to control the computer and its resources remotely, unbeknownst to the user sitting in front of the screen. Cybercriminals have full access to data and resources on a zombie computer. They can utilize the bots for Denial of Service (DoS) attacks, to retrieve sensitive data (e.g. your passwords, usernames, account information, and financial data), to send spam and even to distribute the virus to others from your PC.

Earlier this month, the zombie network “Free Public WiFi” resurged in media attention (NPR). It pops up as a wireless network option in public places, but it’s not a functioning or existing WiFi network. Although no one knows for sure where “Free Public WiFi” originated, and some believe it began just as a joke, it does provide an access point for hackers to come in and check out the user’s information, so be cautious not to use it.

Below are the rankings of the cities with the most zombie-infected computers. Beware, the results may scare you!

The top five international cities with the highest zombie population:

1. Johannesburg, South Africa
2. Cape Town, South Africa
3. Lisbon, Portugal
4. New Delhi, India
5. Bangalore, India

The top five U.S. cities with the highest zombie population:

1. Kansas City, Kansas
2. St. Paul, Minnesota
3. St. Louis, Missouri
4. Sacramento, California
5. Richmond, Virginia

The top five Canadian cities with the highest zombie population:

1. Vancouver, British Columbia
2. Toronto, Ontario
3. Winnipeg, Manitoba
4. Calgary, Alberta
5. Montreal, Quebec

How do you know if your computer is a zombie?

There are some common symptoms of an infected device:

- The device running sluggish

- Unusual activity at startup

- Internet security or virus detection software disabled

- You get e-mails from auto responders that the recipient is not online or on vacation, but you do not know the recipient

- Number of tasks running on the computer exceeds what should be running

- The device running at or near capacity
(Privacy Rights Clearinghouse)

How can you protect your computer?

Zombies can enter your home or your workplace with no warning and cause widespread destruction throughout your physical and virtual community.

To protect yourself from such attacks, McAfee security experts advise a comprehensive security suite such as McAfee Total Protection™, McAfee Internet Security, and McAfee Antivirus Plus and to keep your software up to date and enable the “auto-update” feature. In addition, delete spam without opening it, avoid installing programs from questionable sources and don’t allow suspicious websites to install software.

If you think that your PC is infected with malware visit: http://home.mcafee.com/VirusInfo/VirusRemovalTools.aspx for virus removal tools and services.


2 Comments

  • We did not take into account actual people population of these cities but looked at the geographic location of zombies (innocent but compromised machines that are part of an army of millions of computers that are sending out spam and spreading malware and other mischief) and identified the cities around the world that had the greatest number of them.

  • jml

    As an infosec worker in St Paul, I’d really like to know how the city assignments were done. St Paul is smaller geographically and in population than most or all other parts of the 7-county metropolitan area containing St Paul, so this outcome is pretty counter-intuitive.

    Can you shed some light on how this study worked?

    -jml

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>