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26 January 2007, 14:10

Vint Cerf says a quarter of Internet PCs is part of a bot network

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Vint Cerf is sure of one thing: a fourth of all computers with internet access are part of a bot network. In a presentation he gave at the World Economic Forum currently taking place in Davos, Switzerland, the co-developer of TCP/IP, the "Father of the Internet", and "Chief Internet Evangelist" at Google said the spread of bot networks had reached "pandemic" proportions. Cerf estimates that 100 to 150 million of the 600 million internet PCs worldwide are infected with bots according to a report on the BBC. The internet continues to operate stably and reliably, he says, even though bot networks pose a considerable threat to the infrastructure of the internet.

Bot networks connect several thousand or even 100,000 infected PCs, which can then be controlled from a central command & control server. Among other things, "owners" of bot networks rent them to perform certain tasks, such as sending out mass spam e-mails or additional trojans or conducting massive attacks on web servers or networks.

This approach also has some side effects. Among other things, John Markoff of the New York Times says that a single bot network once took up 15 per cent of the capacity of Yahoo's search engines when the network was looking for random text to include in the e-mails that it would send out as spam. And yet, most users don't have the slightest idea that their PC is infected with a trojan and therefore takes part in attacks as a bot. The load that a single bot network places on the Internet sometimes reaches as much as 10 to 20 Gb/s.


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