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10/14/2008
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George V. Hulme
George V. Hulme
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Demise Of Storm Botnet Clears Way For More Nimble Botnets

A number of security researchers now say the infamous Storm botnet, which has been quiet for about a month, could very well be dead. Some are saying the era of big botnets may be over.

A number of security researchers now say the infamous Storm botnet, which has been quiet for about a month, could very well be dead. Some are saying the era of big botnets may be over.Not that they'll be missed.

According to this story which ran in Dark Reading today, Paul Royal, director of research for anti-botnet security vendor Damballa, says "This is the end of the really gigantic botnet as we know it."

Don't declare "Mission Accomplished" anytime soon, though. We've witnessed a similar progression, should Royal be correct in his prediction, before. Viruses like the LoveBug that tore through e-mail servers in 2000, or worms such as SQL Slammer and Blaster, are largely a relic of the past. Sure, we may see another big worm or virus outbreak, but the trend is toward quieter, stealthier Trojans and spyware.

You see, it's tough to turn a profit if everyone knows you've infected them.

Security researchers say the same could now be true of botnets:

Even if turns out that this lull was merely the quiet before a Storm surge, it's unlikely that even a reinvented Storm -- now at about 47,000 infected machines, according to Damballa -- would ever operate at the massive size it once was, at close to a half-million bots at its peak in early January. This is likely the end of the era of massive botnets, and the beginning of a new generation of smaller, more targeted botnets, says Paul Royal, director of research for Damballa.

While it may be good riddance to the Storm botnet, down to less than 50,000 infected systems from its once 500,000 infected systems to do its spam spreading bidding, it's not the end of botnets. They'll just be smaller, more clandestine, and highly targeted.

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