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Zombies

To me the only good kind of Zombie comes in a glass, usually with some sort of umbrella and cocktail cheery. All other kinds leave me as cold as their undead flesh.

Zombies in film have generally been portrayed as slow moving, shambling flesh eating creatures, much as they were parodied in ‘Shaun of the dead.’ This to me is frightening enough, but when they’re speedy super charged types such as in ’28 days later,’ this is enough to have me hiding behind the sofa.

In computing terms, a Zombie Computer (usually shorted simply to Zombie,) is one that has been infiltrated from the outside and now does the bidding of another master. The PC has usually been infected due to some sort of internet security compromise, such as a virus or Trojan horse. Generally the user is unaware that their computer has been infected, there are no tell tale signs of Zombiedom, your PC doesn’t attempt to crack open your skull and eat your brains, or go shuffling along the desk moaning pitifully.

Most Zombies these days are used as part of a Botnet (I’ll define that one for you later, but in the meantime you can check out whatis.com’s definition here (opens in new tab)) forming part of a vast Zombie army, that’s usually tasked with sending out spam. Occasionally though the Zombie master will use his army of darkness to orchestrate a distributed denial of service attack, where his slaves working as one all link through to a site, bringing it down as it simply can’t handle the traffic.

The use of Botnets and Zombies unfortunately seems to be increasing. Is there a way to fight back? Well obviously we should ensure that our systems are as secure as possible, and we should run regular checks to make sure we haven’t been infiltrated.

If after all that though you’re still convinced your PC’s a Zombie, well then simply sprinkle a little holy water on the monitor screen (not too much we don’t want to damage the components.) If it starts smoking and crying ‘I’m melting, I’m melting,’ then I’m afraid you’ve got a Zombie and the only thing you can do is hide under the desk until the exorcist arrives.

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at ITProPortal.com where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.