Even in 2012 the lack of computer security on a lot of the computers that are out there is amazing. While the situation has gotten a lot better than it used to be it is still not where it needs to be. There are still way too many computers that are out on the internet that are not protected. And we do not mean any kind of advance protection. We are talking about the simple basics such as running a normal antivirus on the system. Or even just running an update so you can get the proper security hole patches. There are just still some people out there who have not gotten the message that the bad guys are out there and they are looking to take over your system. So a lot of the people wait until they are attacked and then they decide to take the proper measures.
This problem used to be only confined to Windows based computers but that is not the case anymore. It is now becoming a problem on Mac OS X based computers as well. And not only that, it is moving beyond just the normal computing platform. The problem is being seen when it comes to tablets and mobile phones as well. The bad guys are everywhere and you just have to accept that fact. If you are surfing the internet on any kind of system without protection then you are just asking for trouble. The bad guys are a lot more sophisticated than they used to be and that means that there is a lot more trouble for everyone out there.
One of the biggest problems when it comes to being attacked is the attack that you cannot see. While there is a lot of malware out there that will let you know that it is on your computer and just take over, there is also a lot of malware out there that likes to hang out in background and just see what you are doing. It sits in the background quietly hoping that you will not notice it. And it is sitting there for one of several reasons. Sometimes it is collecting the information on your computer and sending it to the bad guys so that they can process it. Other times it is using the resources on your computer for a more nefarious purpose. It is using the resources on your computer so that it can turn it into being part of a botnet.
A Botnet (Mohit of The Hacker News has an entire magazine dedicated to them this month) is a network of computers that are working for the same purpose. Usually the purpose of a botnet is to hurt other computers on the internet. One of the more popular ways to do this is by creating a DDOS attack. A DDOS attack allows the owner of the botnet to send so much traffic to a website that no one else is able to get in. If you have a business on the web and someone sends a botnet your way then that can cause you to lose a lot of money each day that the botnet happens. Botnet are also used to send out spam. Yes, the spam that you see in your email was most likely sent by a botnet.
There are ways to tell if your computer has become part of a botnet. First of all an updated antivirus will usually be able to sniff it out. Also if you see that your computer is using resources when you are not on it that is a good indicator that something is wrong. If the lights on your computer are constantly flashing when no-one is using it then you should really get it checked out. Additionally, you can use Botnet Checker (its down at the time of writing) which is a handy and free tool.