You may have read in the news of an attack on WordPress of a giant botnet. As a reader, you have little to fear. People like me who log into WordPress with a username and password have more concern, but not much.
First, what is a botnet? It is a network of “robot” computers—yours for example—under someone else’s control, without your permission, or even knowledge. Typically, these robot computers are used to send out the hordes of spam that plague us all. Or, they could be using your computer to find and control other computers. They work in the background that you don’t see, so your only clue is that your computer seems to be running slower than usual.
WordPress is not just a blog site. It is a cloud editing program that many use to maintain their own web sites. Some find the usernames and passwords an annoyance, so they just adopt the username “Administrator” or simply “admin” and a simple password such as “aaaaaa” or, cleverly, they think, the word itself, “password.” These are the ones successfully attacked.
Home computers may not be the ultimate target. A software company executive wrote, “One of the concerns of an attack like this is that the attacker is using a relatively weak botnet of home PCs in order to build a much larger botnet of beefy servers in preparation for a future attack.” A server is a large computer programmed to provide service to other computers, such as access or data. WordPress, for example, runs on a server as does your web portal, AOL, Yahoo!, or whatever.
My username and password would not be that obscure to someone who knows me, but is unlikely to be discovered by an automatic trial-and-error. On my computer I have a software gadget that continuously shows the level of computer activity and amount of memory used. From experience, I know what levels they normally are, and I would be suspicious if they jumped up for no reason I knew of.
I do not subscribe to any commercial antivirus programs. The one that comes with the Windows 7 operating system seems adequate, and I have had no trouble with just that and a little common sense.
I pay close attention to the Windows warning message that says something like, “Xxx program wants to change your computer. Do you want to allow it?” This warning alone has made home computers much more secure. But only if you heed it.