The Year of the Botnet
by Connie Sadler, Director of IT Security, Computing and Information Services
Many security experts are predicting that 2006 will be "The Year of the Botnet". So what is a botnet? A botnet is a network of ro"bots" whose "members" consist of large numbers (hundreds of thousands) of personal computers that collectively provide massive amounts of computing power to their "commanders".
These armies of bots are bought, sold and leased for large sums of money and are generally used to store and transfer spam, illegal software and movies, illegal images (child pornography), etc. There is fierce competition for control of these botnets, and hundreds of utilities are used to scan the entire Internet continuously - looking for vulnerable machines - YOUR machines.
You generally won't even suspect that your computer is being used for nefarious purposes unless you are very technically savvy. The only indication you might have is that your computer could slow down significantly. Some users even upgrade their hardware due to lack of performance - not knowing they are a member of a botnet!
So if 2006 is "The Year of the Botnet", read on to learn how you can prevent your system from being involuntarily "signed up".
IT Security Training this Spring
CIS will offer five opportunities this term to help faculty and staff spruce up their computer security savviness.
These hands-on classes range from the basics of protecting yourself from viruses, worms and botnets; to best practices for network security; security in a Mac environment; and in-depth coverage on such topics secure remote access, detecting malicious software, wireless security and firewalls.
All classes are three hours long and take place in the CIS training room in CIT 269:
Please note that due to high demand and limited seating, classes are open to more people than the number of computers, and therefore, some may need to share a computer.
Check out all the classes from Computer Education.
Rick Smith is the network manager for the Center of Alcohol and Addiction Studies (CAAS) and for the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior (DPHB).
Rick's responsibilities include oversight of the technology life cycle of his departments' computing hardware, management of its off-campus WAN connection to Brown, their servers' disaster recovery plan, working with CIS staff on firewall rules for the servers, and with a computing support staff of one other person, who together support a staff of 200+.
Q: You work for two Bio Med departments, CAAS and DPHB. What's the computing environment that you support there?
We have around 250 nodes, the majority being computers, plus other network devices (routers, switches, etc). Since we are a remote site, I am responsible for the WAN connection to Brown, currently 2 T1 lines. I work with CIS on our firewall rules, and work with a computing support staff of one other.