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Unbeknowst to you, your computer could be a double agent, committing cybercrime as part of a internet-connected botnet. Over 2.2 million American PCs are part of some botnet, according to Microsoft.  (Source: Ubisoft)
U.S. leads the world in botnet virus infection rates

According to a new 240-page security report from Microsoft dubbed the Security Intelligence Report, America is among the most infected countries in the world when it comes to botnets.  The report uses information collected in the first half of 2010 via the Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool.

Over 2.2 million PCs in the U.S. are infected with a virus that makes them part of one of the internet's massive botnets.  The term "botnet" refers to a group of connected computers that can be used for ill purposes such as spamming, distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, and mass credit card fraud.

Brazil came in second place for most infected computers, with 550,000 botnet-infected PCs.  Per computer population, though South Korea had the highest rate (though its total number of infected machines is lower than that of the U.S. or Brazil).  In South Korea 14.6 out of 1,000 PCs are in a botnet, versus 5.2 computers out of 1,000 in the U.S.

Cliff Evans, head of security and identity at Microsoft UK, comments to 
BBC News, "Most people have this idea of a virus and how it used to announce itself.  Few people know about botnets."

Fewer people perhaps know about Microsoft's Malicious Software Removal Tool (MRT).  MRT has been is a free tool Microsoft includes with Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7.  First released in 2005, the tool is easy to run -- just go to "Start", type "run" in the search bar, and then type "mrt" (case insensitive) in the resulting popup.  The tool will then activate and be ready to scan your computer and remove many common types of malware.

Perhaps if everyone learns how to use the MRT, America can escape earning the dubious distinction of being the world's biggest botnet participant in 2011.  Given the general public's ignorance of security, that seems unlikely, though.

Despite the difficulty in getting the public to practice proper security, Microsoft is taking steps to try to win the war against botnet masters on its own.  The company recently seized control over 276 internet domains that were being used by botnet owners.  And it has beefed up the securityof its most recent operating system, Windows 7, making it harder to infect new PCs.

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The Windows car and the Mac car
By Tony Swash on 10/15/2010 7:16:44 AM , Rating: 0
The Windows car is the most popular car in the world. The Mac car is much less popular. Some of Windows car owners like to mock the Mac car for not having a bigger market share, for being a bit pricey, for not always having the latest gizmo as soon as some of the Windows cars.

The problem is that about one in four Windows cars burst into flames in the first three years of use. Mac cars never burst into flames, in fact to all intent and purposes Mac cars seem fire proof.

The Window car fans say "never mind, as long as you don't drive too fast and always make sure you have fire extinguishers you will be ok!" To be really safe Window cars owners are told that not only are fire extinguishers an expensive but necessary accessory for Windows cars but also that its best to always drive wearing an asbestos suit. The Windows car fans are not daunted by this, they say "Windows cars are so much better - they come in lots more models and colors than Mac cars"

Some Window car fans are so annoyed by the bad reputation for inflammability of their chosen brand that they loudly shout at the Mac drivers "just you wait, one day when Mac cars are really popular too your cars will also burst into flames!"

As the Mac car owners serenely drive down the highway passing the numerous burnt out wrecks of Windows cars they scratch their head and think "what are those guys smoking?"

RE: The Windows car and the Mac car
By Raraniel on 10/15/2010 8:54:18 AM , Rating: 3
An interesting metaphor, since in reality Macs are the ones with a reputation for needing a fire extinguisher :D e-water-boil

RE: The Windows car and the Mac car
By Tony Swash on 10/15/10, Rating: 0
RE: The Windows car and the Mac car
By B3an on 10/15/2010 6:09:45 PM , Rating: 3
And you think that if OSX was as popular as Windows it would be any more safe? or even as safe? When it's been proven it's less secure, in many ways. Then look at how long it takes Apple to update there secure flaws. Occasionally it's taken them up to a YEAR to fix "critical" flaws.

I've not used AV or anything else on Vista or Win7, but will download and run scans every few months to see if it has anything - never does. They are very secured OS's, if you're not a tool you wont get infected.

Because the main cause of people getting infected in some way is there own stupidity.
A user goes to a site and gets... "WARNING! : YOUR COMPUTER IS INFECTED. CLICK HERE TO RUN A FREE VIRUS SCAN" ... then the fool does that and downloads and installs some malware.

This comment is wasted on you though Tony, it's clear you work for Apple or have sharer in the company. Unless you really are as stupid as the comments you post.

RE: The Windows car and the Mac car
By Luticus on 10/15/2010 10:35:02 AM , Rating: 3
one in four Windows cars burst into flames

Oh, and Macs are completely infallible... i assure you they are not. everything from yellow screens to clunky interfaces, to overheating, to their mobile devices needing band aids just to get signal... yea... you're driving serenely right into a fire pit. meanwhile my mobile device works as intended, needs nothing extra to get signal, does everything yours does without the need for jail breaking and requires no additional software to make me happy. best of all, no itunes... i don't have to worry about plugging my phone into different computers that it's not "synced" with, in fact i can sync my phone with several different systems at the same time!

my windows machine is a god like powerhouse with an insane amount of security but you'd never know it using the thing because it's all transparent. I don't worry about viruses and i download all the time, i don't worry about malware/spyware or many other things most anti windows people preach about. I have complete compatibility with every windows game and software item i can thing of from as far back as the days of windows 95 and i can you any new pieces of software/hardware out (for the most part ~98%).

i don't mind mac but i'm left wondering why it is that you care so much? i mean seriously, it's the mac users that are always walking around talking about how bad my $1500 machine is because it's a pc. i don't particularly care man, a computer's a computer. macs are alright at what they do but they are not, in any way, better than my windows machines. not in software, not in hardware, not in security, not in experience. they have NO advantage what-so-ever.... you name me ONE advantage that is logical and real and i'll agree but in all the years of computer experience i have and all the years of people shoving mac down my throat i've never ever heard one. there are things that are nice but not better. in fact the only one i can think of that comes even close i thought of myself!

in the words of Franklin. "those who would trade their liberty for a little bit of temporary security deserve neither liberty nor security" mac should change it's slogan from "think different" to "think sacrifice" because that's what you're doing when you buy mac, sacrificing choice and functionality for a plastic candy coated bubble of an environment in which you can do what steve jobs says you can do and that's about the extent of it.... pwn3d!

RE: The Windows car and the Mac car
By Raraniel on 10/15/2010 12:14:38 PM , Rating: 3
I am convinced that if you put a Mac into my mother's hands, she would find a way to infect it with spyware. She wouldn't stop there, she'd find a way to infect it with spyware designed for a Windows machine.

RE: The Windows car and the Mac car
By Luticus on 10/15/2010 3:06:21 PM , Rating: 3
lol... you know why you don't see as many infections on macs? because programs like "limewire" and "bearshare" aren't usually mac complaint...

every computer i come across that is highly infected typically have one or more of these types of programs on them.

P2P is like and orgy, feels pretty great while your doing it... untill you realize one guy has AIDS.

RE: The Windows car and the Mac car
By Tony Swash on 10/15/10, Rating: 0
RE: The Windows car and the Mac car
By Luticus on 10/15/2010 3:18:44 PM , Rating: 3
Macs are less fallible than Windows PCs

no... they aren't. i work with lots of macs every day and believe me they have JUST as many if not MORE issues than windows pcs. Maybe not the same issues but they certainly have their moments just the same.

"god like"

my pc is "god like" :-)
in all reality it's a hell of a good system that spent lots of money and time on customizing (both hardware and software wise) it runs perfectly fine all the time with no security issues or crashes of any kind. though i don't believe it infallible i do think it's about as rock solid as most computers come.

I care because it pains me to see so many people trapped in the tortured madhouse that is Windows computing.

this is why i don't like you... you remind me of a bible thumper... always shoving your beliefs and opinions down other peoples throats. if people are happy with their windows systems they why do you just "have" to try and change their opinions? why cant you just say "i think it's great that you're happy with your system" and go use your mac in peace?

Any system that requires the following to work safely

windows systems don't require this to work safely, this is the equivalent of putting on a biohazard suit. do you use a biohazard suit to walk down the street. This is the kind of thing a tech would do because he knows he's getting into something dangerous. granted you should learn about security and know how to protect yourself no matter what kind of system you're on.

I repeat - Windows is the platform getting infected all the time - why do you put up with it?

because i use my computer for more than just surfing the web and playing with art programs....

RE: The Windows car and the Mac car
By Tony Swash on 10/15/10, Rating: -1
RE: The Windows car and the Mac car
By Luticus on 10/15/2010 9:14:32 PM , Rating: 2
The TRUTH of the matter is as follows:
I never once said windows was perfect, flawless, or the only choice for any serious computer user. You assume because i defend windows so readily that i'm so "windows fan" without ever considering the fact that i might actually be writing this from a mac running osx 10.6.

You speak as though i haven't considered the alternative when the truth of the matter is that i'm not only a master within windows but i'm also a highly skilled mac, linux, and unix administrator/user. I use all of these operating systems on a very regular basis and know the pros and cons by heart. I have worked with mac osx since 10.0 and i even have an old emulated 7.0 system laying around. i have also worked with the following alternative operating systems: Debian, mint, ubuntu, fadora, redhat enterprise linux, knoppix, mandriva/mandrake, older suse, solaris 10, bsd. i administrate a windows server 2003, and windows server 2008 systems.

you say that windows security is lacking, well i never said that it was perfect but i will say that in the hands of someone who is a cut above brain-dead and doesn't do dumb things on the net, windows security works just fine.

you said that mac osx security is more elegant, my rebuttal is that the keychain system sucks and breaks so often it requires built in tools to fix it on a regular basis. you don't know how many times i have to fix someone’s security keychain after they reset their password. Every single time....

the uac prompts on a windows box are NO different then the system password prompts on any linux/mac computer. mac uses the bsd codebase which is similar in regard to any other linux system really and so it works roughly the same way. you have a root directory and a home directory and all users can only write to their home directory. only root or a user with sudo (yes this works on a mac) privileges can access the root file system. UAC works EXACTALLY the same way, it simply prevents idiots from writing to the system files without elevation. everyone who switched to a mac or linux system because they were annoyed by uac IS a moron!

you want me to be honest an honorable and i think i have been. mac is not a bad system for what it is good at. it's alright and i don't have any malice toward the computer itself i just feel a bit confined in the environment because i prefer open systems that allow me to customize them a bit more. simply put, all systems have their strengths and weaknesses and to simply say one is crap and has no point is foolish. windows is a great os, and so is mac, and so is linux. they serve different markets and have different purposes. anyone who things that they should cross each others lines as they are now is crazy. mac is great at art and design but when it comes to system customization and administration or working in a large scale corporate network... it's a bit... lacking. windows is nice for general users who want to do a lot of different things with their pc's, they are more customizable than macs are and can offer a larger selection of software. they are also better for integration with many different types of devices. linux is the ultimate for customization and administration and is also by far the most secure. linux is great for someone who wants to do a little work setting the system up and once they have it the way the want... it will never break. mac, alright out of the box, good at what it does. windows, mildly lacking out of the box but with a little customization and understanding of how it works it's an excellent platform and is unrivaled in the business world. linux, hard as hell out of the box (a lot distros, ie. Ubutnu/mint, are fixing this) but once you get it set up you can't break it. also it's the best if you want a hard core secure system.

i see computers for what they are. technology is my whole life. believe me, there's not much i don't know when it comes to technology.

well it's been fun but it might be time to move on to a new article now :-)

"We basically took a look at this situation and said, this is bullshit." -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng's take on patent troll Soverain

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