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Australia is running a national zombie awareness week in a bid to educate users about how to stop hackers from taking over control of their PCs.

The event, which runs until 8 March, is a variant on the internet security awareness weeks run in other countries. Windows PCs compromised by malware are routinely used to distribute spam or launch denial of service attacks. Access to botnets (networks of compromised zombie PCS) is traded on underground forums.

The issue was highlighted by the recent spread of the infamous Conficker worm, which uses a Microsoft exploit and (more significantly) network spreading tricks. Conficker has infected as many as 10m machines, according to some estimates.

Some machines infected by the malware have undoubtedly been cleaned up, leading to more sophisticated estimates that somewhere close to 3m compromised machines are available at any one time.

Fortunately for inboxes the world over these compromised machines are yet to be abused.

The Australian campaign aims to tackle one of the root cause of the botnet epidemic - user awareness. National Zombie Bot Awareness week runs in association with National Consumer Fraud Week by The Australasian Consumer Fraud Taskforce. The initiative is being supported by various information security firms.

Three video clips have been made to promote National Zombie Bot Awareness week. Each draws inspiration from George Romero's Night Of The Living Dead, featuring excerpts from the film combined with overlayed text promoting the basic messages of the week.

Here on El Reg's horror film critic desk we can't help but feel that an opportunity for a bit of humour to spread the message has been lost here. What about a Downfall mash-up? Or more appropriately some scenes from Antipodean zombie-comedy splatterfest Braindead?

A recent campaign against speeding in Australia used humour to get its message across, something that's a bit absent from the internet security campaign.

These quibbles aside attempts to educate punters on internet hygiene issues are no bad thing, especially when the message of National Zombie Bot Awareness week has relevance far beyond the shores of the lucky country. ®

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