New Spyware Bill Targets Botnets, Increases Funding for Cyber Security

on October 05 at 06:41 AM
In yet another attempt at fighting the war on spyware, adware and viruses, the Cyber Security Enhancement Act was introduced to Congress on May 14th. This new act is a major step forward in the battle against botnet attacks.

Botnets are groups of computers that hackers have gained access to illegally. The hackers then utilize these groups of computers as tools to commit illegal activities over the Internet. Botnets can be used for spamming, installing illegal spyware on computer systems or identity theft.

Good antivirus software will find malicious bots on your computer and defend against bot attacks. But, hackers are growing more and more sophisticated and security software must be continually updated to keep up with botnet technology. You may be the victim of botnets if your computer is running smoothly and quickly one moment and then immediately starts acting strange. For instance, it stutters or slows down from time to time. With botnets, hackers can use your computer for illegal activities, even while you're innocently surfing the Internet.

The bill, introduced to Congress by Representatives Steve Chabot, an Ohio Republican and Adam Schiff, a California Democrat, would allow prosecutors to pursue racketeering charges against cybercriminal groups, expand sentencing of cybercrime to allow for forfeiture of property, and add $30 million a year to the budget for fighting cybercrime.

The bill also calls for a broader definition of electronic data theft related to communication, and seeks to expand the current cyber extortion statute.

This legislation comes on the heels of several new developments in the use of botnets:

o Peer-to-peer botnets are now being used. These work the same way as file-sharing programs, making them difficult to detect and shutdown because there is not one centralized point. The Storm worm was a recent example of this kind of botnet.

o An application called Zunker was recently discovered to be controlling botnets across 54 different countries. The botnet controlling Zunker was recently used to send a massive wave of spam containing the Alanchum Trojan.

o A 21-year-old hacker was recently sentenced to 57 months in prison for infecting nearly 400,000 computers for botnet use.

o The recent Warezov, Bagle, and Zhelatin worms were all created by rival botnets.

o Recent findings by the FBI uncovered compromised routers being sold for $2.00 and unsecure host computers being constantly traded online by cybercrooks for stolen credit card and Social Security numbers.

Botnets first came into use around 1993 with the use of IRC bots. But, it wasn't until 2002 when the Agobot variant of botnets came to the forefront that botnets really became a significant threat. The Agobot spyware worm allows others to access a compromised computer, downloads code from the Internet, installs itself in the registry, exploits system vulnerabilities and scans the computer's network for other vulnerabilities and weak passwords.

best botnets This new Cyber Security Enhancement Act and the recent H.R. 964 Spyware Act (on its way to the U.S. House of Representatives) show the Federal Government's increasing awareness and concern about virus, spyware, and Internet privacy issues. With malware getting more sophisticated and evasive every day and Internet identity theft on the rise; this concern is certainly warranted. Hopefully, other countries will follow this lead and help make the global Internet a safer place to surf.

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