The New York Times recently posted an article about a team at Microsoft that works in a "windowless room" investigating how programs skulk around the Internet turning computers into zombies.

 

We thought this sounded a little scarier than it really is, and that a little more detail might help.

 

In the world of computer security, bot is short for robot. Bots are software programs that criminals can control remotely to infect your computer without you knowing it.

 

When criminals send out bots to do their bidding, they typically use them to infect large numbers of computers (known as zombies). These zombies create a network, or a botnet.

 

Criminals use these botnets to send out spam e-mail messages, spread viruses, attack other computers and servers, and commit other kinds of crime and fraud. If your computer becomes a part of a botnet, you are inadvertently helping these criminals.

 

For more information and ways to help protect your computer from becoming a zombie in a botnet, see Zombies and botnets: Help keep your computer under control.

 

To find out more about how Microsoft's Internet Safety Enforcement Team works to control botnets, see the New York Times article, A Robot Network Seeks to Enlist Your Computer.