Computer Crime Research Center


The Latest on Botnet Cybercrime

Date: October 15, 2010

Global and U.S. malware infection rates fell from the second half of 2009 to the first half of 2010, but the world needs a more unified way to fight cybercrime, Microsoft said Wednesday.

As Scott Charney, Microsoft's corporate vice president for Trustworthy Computing, said last week, governments and organizations could apply models from public health to ensure the health of the Internet. And this could start with limiting the access of computers infected with malware or tied up in botnets.

"We've seen things evolved to where botnets are really the launch pad of cybercrime," Jeff Jones, Microsoft's director of Trustworthy Computing, told Wednesday.

A botnet consists of thousands of computers that are infected with the same malware that allows a central computer, or "bot herder," to control them. Botnets are notorious for using people's computers to send out millions of spam e-mails without the users' knowledge.

These days, botnets are responsible for a large chunk of computer infections, Jones said. The spam they send out can contain links to fraudulent websites, scams that trick users into providing sensitive information (phishing), cons that ask people to send money, attached viruses or malware, and more. (Click here for my report on Microsoft's new weapon for taking down botnets.)

"From a cybercriminal point of view, the goal is to get these botnets set up," Jones said. "They're kind of the dark side of cloud computing."

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