Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Tough Strain of Cyber-Flu

New statistics released by Symantec's Messagelabs division have revealed that more than 40 percent of the world's spam can be traced back to a single network of computers. The malware program operating on the infected network is known as the Rustock botnet.

Currently there are some 1.3 million computers infected with the Rustock botnet. That's down from April when there were around 2.5 million computers infected. At the time those computers were sending out approximately 43 billion spam e-mails a day. But like human viruses, computer viruses are also capable of mutating and adapting. Rustock has compensated for the reduction in the number of computers carrying it by upping its volume. Currently the virus is responsible for sending out around 46 million spam e-mails per day. Most of the spam Rustock is responsible for is pharmaceutical.

Like a stubborn strain of flu, Rustock has proved particularly difficult to eradicate. It was dealt a near-fatal blow back in 2008, when the notorious McColo ISP was cut off from the web. McColo was host to command and control servers for a number of botnets. But like the proverbial killer in the slasher film that never quite dies, Rustock managed to survive when McColo was briefly able to reconnect with the web.

Currently computer security professionals are looking for a way to effectively eradicate Rustock completely.

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