Is there a way to detect and remove a zombie drone from your computer? Is there software that will do this?
This question was answered on November 13, 2003. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.
I am assuming that your reference to a ‘zombie drone’ is referring to a program that is secretly implanted on a computer that allows remote control of that system for malicious use.
Machines infected with this ‘malware’ (malicious software) are often used for various activities including the highly publicized Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attacks, which flood websites with traffic rendering them useless.
Other exploits include turning your machine into a porn server, spam server or illegal file-swapping server all without your knowledge.
The first thing that would be helpful is understanding how you come in contact with these types of programs in the first place.
We see machines on a regular basis in our shops that have been completely taken over by malware, parasites, spyware, worms and viruses and there is generally a pattern with those that are severely infected.
Most of these ‘victims’ are regular participants in IRC (chat groups), file sharing programs, online casinos or adult websites amongst other peripheral activities Participating in these types of activities puts users at a high-risk of loading their computers up with very disruptive
Everything from what looks like a benign media player that is required to watch a certain type of video to a ‘special program’ required to communicate with others can open up a pipeline right into your computer.
Most mainstream sites use industry standard tools to communicate and display media, which you most likely already have, so be very careful when a site requires you to install something new in order to see the desired content.
Microsoft’s Windows Media Player, Real’s RealPlayer, Apple’s Quicktime and MacroMedia’s Flash Player should allow you to see about 90% of the legitimate content on mainstream sites.
As far as detecting and removing these programs, the best way is through the manual manipulation of the Windows registry, which requires a very technical understanding of how Windows works.
Your best bet for software that can help protect your system include keeping your operating system updated to plug holes, keeping your antivirus program active and updated and frequently running a program such as Ad-Aware or SpyBot Search & Destroy (both available at www.webattack.com) which will locate and remove much of the spyware and parasites.
We regularly spend hours cleaning up the mess created by users that have no regard for what lets installed in their computer, just to have them go back to the same behavior that got them in the mess in the first place.
My biggest word of advice is to keep it as simple as possible The less you allow to be installed in your computer, the more likely that you will avoid problems.
Remember, just about all of these errant programs and most of your legitimate programs install a background process that steals valuable resources from your computer’s operating system Printers, scanners, digital cameras or anything that you add to your computer generally comes with a plethora of software that you install but never use.
This is what causes systems to take a long time to boot-up or lock up during simple tasks or display the dreaded BSOD (Blue Screen Of Death), so if you have a bunch of icons next to your clock in the Systray (bottom right-hand corner) chances are that you have already allowed your system to become overloaded.
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Posted by Ken Colburn of Data Doctors on November 13, 2003
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