May 11 2009

Botnets

Published by at 11:19 am under Books,General

The book “Daemon” described in my prior post is built around an imaginary ‘botnet’ set loose after its builder dies. That botnet is imaginary, as far as I know, but less capable botnets are very real and cause a lot of problems on the Internet and in the wider world. Botnets are the source of much of the spam, data theft, and disruptive attacks on legitimate web sites that seem to be a daily occurrence.
A botnet consists of a large number of Internet connected computers owned and operated by unsuspecting, normal, users that have been infected via email or via accessing a web site that injects malicious programs into the machine. These programs allow a remote controller of the botnet (a person using a computer somewhere) to tell the machines to send email, attempt to log on to a web site, or just take data from the machine and send it off over the internet to some place from which they retrieve it. The number of machines in a bot net can be huge; at least hundreds of thousands and probably in the millions. The BBC has a video of a simple use of a botnet to send spam. That activity by the BBC spawned its own controversy .
Recently, researchers at UCSD manage to get temporary control of a different botnet and analyzed the data that would be collected by the botnet’s controller. What they found makes interesting reading.

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