Vast networks of compromised PCs, used by criminals for sending spam and spyware and for launching denial-of-service attacks, are reported to be growing at an alarming rate in terms of their potential. Cerf,, warned that they could undermine the future of the Internet and likened their spread to a pandemic.
Cerf predicted that a quarter of all PCs currently connected to the Internet--around 150 million-- that covertly seize control of a computer and its broadband connection, handing control of both to criminals in remote locations.
According to Mark Sunner, chief security analyst at MessageLabs, Cerf's words of warning and the picture is at least as serious as Cerf paints it.
Sunner said that around the turn of the year security experts were watching one botnet, called, which not only had its own antivirus protection to clear other botnets off "its patch," but had the potential to be 10 times more productive than most other botnets because of built-in defenses.
The most worrying thing about Spam Thru, he suspects, is that a major spike in traffic toward the end of 2006 was merely a testing of the waters and that much worse could be to come--particularly whenappear online.
"With new levels of sophistication this has reached a real milestone," Sunner added. "Botnets are getting smaller,and more discreet and yet the volumes of spam are going up.
"Without a hint of scaremongering, will this get a lot worse throughout 2007 in terms of botnet sending? Absolutely, yes."
Will Sturgeon of Silicon.com reported from London.