Cybercriminals are making over $10 billion a year using botnets, according to a report by the European Network and Information Security Agency. Botnets are a collection of computers plagued by malicious programs.
According to ENISA, botnets promote "the distribution of spam e-mails, coordination of distributed denial-of-service attacks, and automated identity theft, e.g. credit card information and general banking data for financial fraud."
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As broadband services become more accessible, it becomes easier for botnet-related crimes to be committed. The botnet code can enter a computer through vulnerabilities in security programs, pop-ups or banner ads.
Botnet codes are not always caught by anti-virus programs. This leaves businesses just as exposed as individuals. A RSA CyberCrime Intelligence Service report states that almost 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies have been infected with a botnet.
Regulating cybercrime laws is the key to reducing the spread of damaging botnet effects. Joe Stewart, director of Malware Research for Dell, explains why it is difficult to crack down on botnet criminal activity.
"Botnets will be with us until the way computing works is fundamentally changed at the lowest level," Stewart says. "Right now, we're dealing with a legacy architecture that was invented back in the '70s. None of this was envisioned, so nobody designed any security into the lowest layers."