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Re: Over three million computers 0wned?
From: "Jamie Reid" <Jamie.Reid () mbs gov on ca>
Date: Sat, 28 Jun 2003 22:11:08 -0400

Even if 3mil machines are actively and currently compromised, 
of all reachable hosts on the Internet, it would not be unreasonable
to assume that %80 or more are vulnerable to remote compromise 
in some way.  That number is speculative, but most estimates from 
consutling firms are much higher. (Based on hundreds if not
thousands of penetration tests against corporate networks with 
a %90+ success rate). 

So of all possible 0wnable machines (including those without basic 
anti-virus protection) I would personally speculate that the 3mil is 
a pretty low estimate. 

What these sort of stats mean is that ultimately, the Internet is not 
in a state in which security controls can easily be added, mostly because
of the high degree of autonomy and relatively low level of sophistication
of each host and user on the network. The other reality of this is that 
even if hackers aren't directly in control of that most machines, it would
not be inaccurate to say that due to the intrinsic risks in being connected, 
users aren't really in control of their systems either.  

Security tools are the same as any other software in that they are controls
that you add to a system to optimize it and extract value from it. These studies
show that there is still lots of room for optimization (read: buy their software) 
and the implication that there is value in those optimizations.  

So yeah, buy more software. ;)

Jamie.Reid, CISSP, jamie.reid () mbs gov on ca
Senior Security Specialist, Information Protection Centre 
Corporate Security, MBS  
416 327 2324 
"Sean Donelan" <sean () donelan com> 06/28/03 07:09pm >>>


Trustcorps claims it has scientific and anecdotal resaerch supporting its
conclusion that over three million computers are "owned" by malicious

On the other hand, Information Risk Management questioned how any one
person could "own" hundreds of computers at any one time.  And systems are
often not "owned" by a single group, but exploited by multiple groups

Like most statistics, the "truth" is probably a little harder to find, and
a little bit scarier.

The FBI estimates a car is stolen every 27 seconds somewhere in the US.
In 2000, FBI Uniform Crime Report statistics showed that 1,165,559 cars
were stolen; with an estimated value of $7.8 Billion.  Police apprehend
less than 15% of all auto thieves.

Unfortunately this computer crime doesn't fit the FBI crime reporting
statistics well.  Vandalism of Property?  Is the cracking of computers
happening more or less often than car theft?

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