Research published by anti-virus software maker Trend Micro reminded me of those crazy worms-spreading-across-the-Internet-faster-than-you-can-say "patch" days. There are people, some maybe even in your own family, that place us all at significant risk:
Industry experts have previously estimated that, on average, a compromised machine remains infected for 6 weeks. However, our latest research indicates that this estimate is far from accurate. During the analysis of approximately 100 million compromised IP addresses, we identified that half of all IP addresses were infected for at least 300 days.
That's a fairly sobering finding. And it certainly substantiates the point that users who fail to patch and keep a their systems clean jeopardize us all. In fact, that's much more true today than it was in the summer of 2001.
Consider this, also from the research Trend Micro published today:
Once a machine becomes compromised, it is not unusual to find it has become part of a wider botnet. Botnets frequently cause damage in the form of malware attacks, fraud, information theft and other crimes. In 2009, virtually all malware tracked by Trend Micro experts are used by cybercriminals to steal information.
While I'm not a proponent of the idea of having the Internet hygiene police lock infected systems off of the Internet -- stats like these make it tougher to argue against the idea. Perhaps, at the very least, ISPs that notice suspicious traffic emanating from the systems of their customers could drop them an e-mail and introduce them to a bar of patch updates and a good anti-malware rinse.
For my mobile security and technology observations, follow @georgevhulme.