Study: Nearly a Quarter Million PCs Turned Into ‘Zombies’ Daily

New research indicates that more than 200,000 computers were commandeered and turned into “zombies” each day last month, and that the amount of virus messaging on the Internet has increased by 50 percent during the last two months.

Experts tell TechNewsWorld that over the last six months, CipherTrust’s “global threat correlation engine” had been identifying an average of 170,000 new infected zombie computers each day.

Record Month

The term “zombie” is used to describe a personal computer being used to perform a task or tasks without the owner’s knowledge. These tasks may include sending spam, serving pornography, or performing denial of service attacks.

CipherTrust said that since the Sober outbreak in November, the number of new zombies sending spam and virus messages increased by nearly 50 percent, bringing the average total number to more than 250,000 new infected Internet Protocol (IP) addresses each day.

“That swell held up through the end of the year, bringing the average number of daily new zombies in December to 247,755,” said CipherTrust.

This increase made December a record month of new zombie activity reaching 7,609,465 total infected IPs. The largest number of infected IPs continues to alternate between the U.S. and China, primarily due to the large number of computers coming online for the first time.

According to the research, the average number of daily new zombies for December was 247,755, and the total number of new zombies for December: 7,609,465.

World Full of Zombies

The percentage of these new zombies attributed country by country, is as follows:

  • China: 17.10 percent
  • U.S.: 14.75 percent
  • Germany: 8.57 percent
  • France: 5.61 percent
  • Spain: 4.37 percent
  • Korea: 4.35 percent
  • Brazil: 4.06 percent
  • Poland: 4.05 percent
  • Japan: 3.92 percent
  • U.K.: 3.32 percent

According to experts at anti-virus software firm Postini, the latest significant threat to messaging security is a variation of the Sober worm, which was timed to activate on January 5. In the 30 days leading up to Jan. 6, Postini has blocked more than a billion Sober-infected messages through the Postini Threat Identification Network (PTIN) in combination with its multiple anti-virus engines.

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