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Consumer Briefs / COMPUTERS

1 million machines turned into 'bots'

June 17, 2007|From Times Wire Services

More than 1 million computers are used by hackers as remote-controlled robots to crash online systems, accept spam and steal users' personal information, the FBI said.

What was viewed seven years ago as a prank to boot people offline has evolved into schemes to defraud computer users by stealing their credit card and Social Security data, by crashing retail websites and through "pump-and-dump" online stock deals.

Hackers create botnets by scanning the Internet for vulnerable computers, which are then infected and instructed to join the botnet.

Because the hacker has complete control of each "bot" computer, the botnet can be used to send spam e-mail, steal account log-in information or run any program.

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