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25% of all computers are in BotNet

Of the 600 million or so computers that are connected to the Internet, approximately 150 million of them may be unwilling participants in a botnet.

It’s an alarming statistic, once you drop the numbers into a percentage, because that’s 25% which sounds even worse when you consider that’s a quarter of all Internet-connected computers.

This startling revelation was put forward by none other than Google new boy and Internet luminary Vint Cerf.

These quite depressing figures are also a reflection of the ideology behind the Internet; that of free cooperation and sharing, a quality still valued today, but has since become an attach vector for professional Internet fraudsters.

As an example of the ferocity that can be unleashed by so-called botnet attacks:

“Several months ago, Wired published a great story about the extended botnet attack on Blue Security that captures the shadowy nature of the botnet world. Even after weeks of attacks and public tauntings from the spammer behind them, neither the security firm nor its ISPs could fully halt the attacks or identify the person who was launching them. In the end, Blue Security folded.”

These are no longer isolated incidents, either. The power that these criminals have at their disposal is considerable:

“In September 2006, security research firm Arbor Networks announced that it was now seeing botnet-based denial of service attacks capable of generating an astonishing 10-20Gbps of junk data.

Botnets have been behind a significant increase in spam in recent months, and some security vendors have warned that these networks are now large enough to pose a potential threat to major government networks.”

While countries like the USA have taken tough lines with these people, more often than not, most of the offenders are operating from foreign soil, and are difficult if not impossible to track down.

So the question is, with the Internet so open to abuse of this kind, how long before the likes of Google are taken down by a botnet attack? Or, what about some government web property?

It was after all Vint Cerf who once famously said: “The Internet is a reflection of our society and that mirror is going to be reflecting what we see… If we do not like what we see in that mirror the problem is not to fix the mirror, we have to fix society.”

However true that observation is, the task of fixing society is both onerous and Herculean in size and effort when compared to fixing the Internet.

But then fixing the Internet isn’t exactly a run through the fields, either…

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By Wayne Smallman

Wayne is the man behind the Blah, Blah! Technology website, and the creator of the Under Cloud, a digital research assistant for journalists and academics.

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