Your computer, the Zombie

Even with sophisticated information security software installed, you can be at risk. Symantec, the computer security company, has several pieces of software that are vulnerable to variations of malicious code called "Spybot". Spybot opens a back door into your computer system and phones home to it's owner so that the owner can take control of your computer. When your computer gets taken over, it is called a zombie and mindlessly does whatever the attacker wants. Spybot affects older versions of Symantec Client Security and Symantec AntiVirus Corporate Edition. These are both used primarily in businesses. Spybot does not affect the Norton line of home computer security products.

A patch for this problem has been available for months.

What should the Astute Reader conclude from this? Even the professionals don't always get it right...and thus we need to rely on multiple means of defense:

  • antivirus software to find most of the viruses
  • firewall software to catch suspicious activity such as "phoning home"
  • anti-spam software to keep some virus infected email off your system, in the first place
  • anti-spyware software to pick up what the others might have missed

This principle of having a multilayer defense is called "defense-in-depth". It is similar to safety systems in your car: bumpers, crush zones, airbags, and seat belts all work together to absorb energy from a crash and minimize or prevent injury. Make sure YOU have all your protective gear in place.

For more details, see this article.


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