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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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RE: The Windows car and the Mac car
By Tony Swash on 10/15/2010 6:40:51 PM , Rating: -1
You see what gets to me is not that for some reason I cannot quite fathom some people actually prefer Windows with all its security risks. Thats OK - its free world - maybe you have good reasons to prefer Windows.

What gets to me is that you guys keep insisting that your chosen OS isn't the most insecure OS on the planet. You keep insisting that actually all the security of all other OSs are equally as bad as Windows. That's what's galling. its shows such a lack of ethical and moral courage. You can't just accept the consequences of your decision to use Windows - you have to pretend that your problems are everyone's problems. They are not. Somehow you want to try to convince the non-Windows world that we are all in the same boat as you - and we are not. Deep down you Windows fans know this, and it makes you grumpy and resentful and so you post crass nonsense like this -

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

This is a perfect example of the chutzpah of many Windows fans. We get infected so you must also or else you are not real power users.

My mac is set up with the default security options that come out of the box and which are considerably less intrusive and more elegant than the built in security system on Windows 7 for example (I use both mac and Windows 7 regularly so I see how the two alternative systems work often). I have never installed any anti-virus or special security software on this Mac or any of the many Macs I have owned or administered. I do all sort of stuff on my mac, which is permanently connected to the internet via broadband, and that includes the sort of dangerous stuff that Windows users have to be so careful about such setting up and administering web sites, downloading bit torrents, downloading and installing warez (yeah I know - thats another discussion - I am retired and living on a reduced income:) ), sharing documents via a variety of methods with people around the world some of whom I hardly know. And I have never once had the slightest security problem with my Mac or any Mac I have used since MacOSX was released.

Guys - at least be honest and honourable, at least say the truth which is that your Windows OS has crappy security, it always has done, and its a crappiness that is unique to Windows. You may love you OS for other reasons but don't try to pretend we are all in the same boat - people who don't use Windows know that that is not true because we have experienced the alternative.

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 :-)

"When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." -- Sony BMG attorney Jennifer Pariser

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