Almost 20% of Home Computers, 7% of Corporate Ones are Botnet Slaves, Expert Says
Posted Jun 10, 2011 5:12 AM CST
By Martha Neil
In all probability, it may not be Big Brother that's watching you through your home computer. With nearly one in five machines in individual homes infected by inadvertently downloaded malware, the greater likelihood, it appears, is that a band of cybercriminals has added your home computer to its army of so-called botnet slaves controlled by an offsite master machine.
Although corporate computers are usually better protected from infiltration, about 7 percent of those machines are infected, too, security researched Alex Cox of NetWitness Corp. tells Bloomberg. School computers are also a target.
Such computer networks are often used to commit financial crimes, but are also employed to steal sensitive information and coordinate attacks in which a website can be flooded with contacts that render it inoperative.
Authorities are fighting back, and recently won an unprecedented court order allowing the Federal Bureau of Investigation to briefly take over individuals' enslaved computers in the so-called Coreflood botnet.and cleanse them of malware. While some question the legality of this tactic, experts perceive it as having been effective.
This won't be the last time we'll see this takeover tactic employed by law enforcement, predicts Gordon Snow, assistant director for the cyber-division of the FBI. Following the success of the Coreflood operation, he says, "I expect we’ll see more of it."
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