who are you, defenders of the universe

Since E's been talking (writing) about communities and since I'm not supposed to mention The Game (not that I know what happened in said game anyway but I presume it's not the sort of news that is likely to make E a shiny, happy person), I'll give yous this*:

Attack of the Bots: How we're Losing the Cyberwar

A "botnet," which can be made up of millions of "zombie" computers, is becoming the Internet's greatest threat. The year 2006 saw an increase in the use by cyber criminals of software that secretly installs itself on the computers of unwary victims and enslaves the system creating a zombie or "bot" (short for robot). The software repeats its secret installation on thousands or even millions of computer systems that interlink and synchronize their efforts forming a "botnet." The botnet can then be directed by its controller to send out tons of spam email, gather information from enslaved systems or conduct a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack and crash a company's or agency's network. All the while, the owners of the "botted" systems are unaware that their computers are contributing to an attack. The "botware" is very sneaky. It can hide itself well so an owner would never know it's there. Many "botkits" include "rootkits" that integrate into a computer's operating system and feed false reports back to anyone examining the system- making everything appear normal. It is not known the extent to which foreign governments may be using the bot technology against the U.S. However, there is evidence that such activity may be taking place. Last spring a program was discovered installed on a foreign coast guard agency's computer that was reporting back to a server in China on shipping manifests and schedules. Current estimates believe that up to 11 percent of the 650 million computer systems attached to the Internet may be infected with bot software. The threat to financial stability and security is real. Recently a computer security researcher intercepted a file generated by a botnet comprised of 793 computers that contained 54,926 log-in credentials and 281 credit-card numbers. Rick Wesson, CEO of Support Intelligence, the computer security company that intercepted the file, said, "We are losing this war badly,” he said. “Even the vendors understand that we are losing the war.” [NYT 7Jan07/Markoff]

* Among various online communities I belong to is one that periodically sends out links about things that are "new" in the counterterrorism world. This was in the latest bulletin (and was flagged by the person who forwards stuff on). Isn't this fun? Communities sharing information (online) about the increasing dangers of "bots"? Any day now, these bots will be taking over the world. Don't say yous were not warned.


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