An international study has revealed a staggering 6% of household computers are harbouring malicious botnets. This equates to over one million households in the UK alone being in regular connection to the criminal networks. The botnets attack websites, send spam, and pass on personal information (such as bank details) to criminals.
The Dutch researchers who collated information on the criminal networks and produced the survey commented “We are talking really big numbers here,”. The team are aiming to reduce the spread of these criminal tools, and have passed the findings on to agencies responsible for dealing with cybercrime.
The UK is currently in position 19 of the top 20 nations with the most prevalent botnet problem. However, whilst the UK figure of 6% seems high, spare a thought for countries such as Israel or Greece where the infection rate is as high as 20%.
On a more positive note, some countries are developing counter technologies. ISPs in Finland, for example, have automated detection technology that notifies the PC owner that they need to clean up their computer. The owner will be temporarily disconnected if, after two warnings, the computer hasn’t been cleaned. Both Germany and Japan have also invested in solutions, providing call centres giving impartial anti-virus and cleaning advice for their PC, if they are identified as being on a botnet.
Michael O’Reirdan, of Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group (MAAWG), commented “There’s a great desire among large ISPs to tackle botnets. By and large the spam issue, in terms of stopping it getting into inboxes, is fairly well sorted,” he said, “We’re seeing a lot more focus on how we deal with botnets and malware.” MAAWG is a group whose main goal is to tackle spam. Now that they have established how severe the problem is, the group will now focus on fixing the issue.
More worrying still is the prospect that the cybercriminals could branch out in the future. According to security experts, some botnet networks are starting to subvert mobile phones to aid their criminal actions. As phones are always on and connected, they offer potentially higher risk.
In order to help protect your computer, online security expert, Tero Pollanen has offered the following advice:
- Install anti-virus software and keep it up to date
- Allow your computer, and programmes, to install updates
- Use the latest version of a firewall and keep it up to date
- Be wary of emails asking you to click links
- Always remember, an offer that looks too good to be true, is exactly that
This article is by Tero Pollanen; an online security and fraud prevention specialist. For the latest online security and financial news, tips and more, check out http://tero-pollanen.blogspot.com/