Guess which country leads the world in botnets?
Botnets are frequently in the news, most recently with Red October. Many of us think, perhaps smugly, that these things are based in locations like China and Russia, but the truth is, while some of the computers themselves may be there, these massive, distributed networks are being controlled from a location much closer to home for many of us -- the United States.
Benjamin Cruz of McAfee reports that the United States not only leads the world in this category, but has more than double the number of Russia and China combined. In fact, the two nations we frequently blame for attacks fall into fourth and tenth place on the list that Cruz published. British Virgin Islands and the Netherlands trail the United States, respectively.
How does McAfee know this? Cruz explains that "with millions of McAfee endpoints and network security appliances sending information to McAfee Global Threat Intelligence (GTI) in the cloud, coupled with a vast collection of malicious binary and proactive research, McAfee Labs has a clear view of botnet threats around the world".
Why the United States? That question is not answered in the report, so speculating would be useless. However botnets are frequently used for sending spam email and spreading viruses, both of which generate revenue and the country does have a great history of "entrepreneurship".
Organized crime has also made the jump to the cyber world, using many of the same strong-arm tactics it used in the past. Threatening to take down sites with a DDOS attack if "protection" money isn't paid. And yes, with the right sites, it works -- a person running a gambling site does not want to go down on Superbowl Sunday.
Occasionally these botnets are taken down in a high-profile, newsworthy way. However, it is perhaps an endless battle that will not be won until users learn to secure computers better and operating system and software makers work out the final kinks in the code. Or, in other words, probably never.