Sunday, November 11, 2007

Computer Scientist Fights Threat Of 'Botnets'

I keep hearing about networks of unsuspecting PCs controlled by underground and malicious forces, but I don't know anything more definitive about them. Here's the start of an article from ScienceDaily.
Computer scientist Paul Barford has watched malicious traffic on the Internet evolve from childish pranks to a billion-dollar “shadow industry” in the last decade, and his profession has largely been one step behind the bad guys. Viruses, phishing scams, worms and spyware are only the beginning, he says.

“Some of the most worrisome threats today are things called ‘botnets’ — computers that are taken over by an outside party and are beyond the user’s control,” says Barford of UW–Madison. “They can do all sorts of nasty things: steal passwords, credit card numbers and personal information, and use the infected machine to forward spam and attack other machines.

“Botnets represent a convergence of all of the other threats that have existed for some time,” he adds.

One of the most menacing aspects of botnets is that they can go largely undetected by the owner of a personal computer. That feature has allowed botnets to grow exponentially online, with millions of infected computers bought and traded on an underground market that one security company estimates has surpassed $1 billion in activity, Barford says.
Here are some other recent articles. There's even a Wikipedia article on the Storm Botnet. It appears that the article is being kept up to date quite actively. That phenomenon itself is worth noting, namely that Wikipedia can serve as an instant forum for discussion and new about items of interest.

The discussion page of the Wikipedia page noted that the Storm Botnet seems to have passed it's peak. A PC World article from Oct 21 says it is only 10% of it's former size. See Storm Worm Now Just a Squall.

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