I've previously written blog entries about the hazards of an unsecured computer being used as part of a "bot net" (network of computers taken over by someone other than their owners): used to send spam, having personal and financial data stolen and misused, and so on.
Well, this Washington Post "Security Fix" article points out an additional hazard: having that remote overlord tell your computer to, essentially, commit suicide...
One of the scarier realities about malicious software is that these programs leave ultimate control over victim machines in the hands of the attacker, who could simply decide to order all of the infected machines to self-destruct. Most security experts will tell you that while this so-called "nuclear option" is an available feature in some malware, it is hardly ever used. Disabling infected systems is counterproductive for attackers, who generally focus on hoovering as much personal and financial data as they can from the PCs they control.
But try telling that to Roman Hüssy, a 21-year-old Swiss information technology expert, who last month witnessed a collection of more than 100,000 hacked Microsoft Windows systems tearing themselves apart at the command of their cyber criminal overlords.
If you'll go read the article (which I would strongly encourage; it's NOT full of computer-ese), you'll find that at least one of those hundred thousand machines belonged to someone in New Jersey, who used it as part of his business.
I will once again reiterate my standing offer to send a FREE (no cost to you at all) "live" (everything runs off the disk, and WILL NOT do anything to what you already have) CD that will let you take Linux for a test-drive so you can see for yourself that Linux is a viable alternative to Microsoft Windows: Linux (and all the software you'd ever need -- MORE than enough to fill a DVD) is free, infinitely more secure than MS' offerings, and runs faster and better on the same hardware. Several of the people that I know that have made the switch are delighted to have done so. Simply send me an email with your snailmail address, and I'll get the disk out to you the same day.