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According to a recent article published by BBC News, the botnet, a network of "hijacked_" computers, is now a "_standard tool_" used by cyber-criminals to invade machines for attractive, sales-worthy data. The article indicates that after the invader attacks the target, it will then use them as _"launch platforms for spam and phishing attacks or target websites with huge amounts of data._" They have proven to be much harder to eliminate, and, as illustrated in the article, these botnets are like "_zombies_" who do not know that they are dead and "_keep coming back again and again to cause even more trouble."
The BBC reports in the article that some of these more extensive networks consist of "millions of machines_" leaving researcher's studies and estimates to suggest that "_5% to 10% of all domestic computers are enrolled on these criminal networks." The article indicates that a number of both small and large botnets – including those with names like Citadel, Kelihos, and Cutwail – were "_dismantled and disrupted_" in 2013, which – to most industry experts – was a very "_good thing_. "
Prof Michel van Eeten of Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, an individual specializing in the study of these networks and "_how to manage them_" was quoted in the article saying, "_The problem of 'undead' botnets is well known. There are various ways in which take-down efforts leave remnants behind that live on and can potentially be reactivated._" The article clarified that the malicious software that enrolled many users onto the "Conficker botnet" of 2008 still infects millions of machines to this day. Security researchers worry about these "_zombie-like networks_" and how they can be defeated forever.
Adrian Culley, a technical consultant at the security firm Damballa, was quoted in the article saying, "Those zombie parts are often left flailing around. Even though the botnet has been taken down, they do not know that, and they will constantly try to contact their maker." The article continued Culley to say, "Targeting domains can be a good way to disrupt a botnet, but the hard part is cleaning up those zombie machines and stopping it for good."
Written by Bryon Turcotte / January 20, 2014