As mentioned on our blog last week (April 25) we cosponsored a Capitol Hill briefing with Microsoft about the growing threat of botnets. (See the post for more information on what botnets are.) Senators Pryor and Bennett made opening remarks about how the Internet is increasingly integrated into society and how computer security is an ever-increasing arms race with new exploits being found, followed by security upgrades, followed by more exploits, etc. It was clear that they understood both the important role technology is playing in society and the value of good computer security. Senator Bennett made the remark that computer security experts clearly had permanent job security.
The event featured three experts to talk about different perspectives of botnets. Ed Felten from Princeton University and USACM member described how botnets form, how they are used and a few ideas for dealing with them. He noted that reliable statistics on how many computers are infected by ‘bots are difficult to find, but computer security experts speculate 5-15% of all machines are infects. This equates to a whopping world-wide total of 30 million to 100 million machines. It is clear that botmasters have ample computing resources to carry out attacks, spread spam, and engage in other illegal activities.