Security experts: Botnets biggest threat on net

At the RSA Conference, security experts have bemoaned botnets' growth and called for updated laws to help tackle the problem
Written by Tim Ferguson, Contributor

Botnets are the biggest global threat facing the internet today, according to security experts at the RSA security conference in San Francisco this week.

Ira Winkler, president of the Internet Security Advisors Group, said: "The statistics are basically that we're screwed. There is no real strategy for it. No-one is doing anything."

Winkler said there needs to be a fundamental change in people's attitudes to effectively combat botnets. "It's going to take a lot more than education, technology and law enforcement."

The most effective approach to tackling botnets would be to impose penalties on people who allow their computers to become infected, making users take more responsibility, according to Winkler.

He said: "We need to hold users responsible. ISPs should have a responsibility of making sure users aren't hosting botnets."

The botnet problem is getting worse, with no obvious solution in sight, according to Joe Telafici, vice president of Avert Operation at McAfee.

Telafici said: "The problem today is many orders of magnitude worse [than] last year. If we don't find a way to make it less profitable to do this, it won't go away."

Jordana Siegel, deputy director of outreach and awareness at the National Cyber Security Division of the US Department of Homeland Security, said: "We're seeing a constant increase in malicious code, which includes botnets."

Ronald Teixeira, executive director of the National Cyber Security Alliance, said: "Botnets are, I think, the biggest threat we face on the internet today. Tackling this is going a long way to limit attacks."

But Matthew Fine, supervisory special agent with the FBI, said the fact that criminals are now going to jail for botnet attacks is a step in the right direction.

"It's sending a message that judges understand this is affecting lives," said Fine.

But more still needs to be done, Fine warned. "I think we're all screaming for help. Hopefully we'll get some updated laws to help us."

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