This is going to be an interesting experiment in internet security governance. Scientists have argued for years that internet security problems are as much caused by a misalignment of incentives as they are by technological flaws in software and hardware. One obvious recipe to call ISPs for action against botnets is one that has helped to increase software vendors’ activities in increasing software robustness.
Gathered under the umbrella of the Shadowserver Foundation, a group of engineers and scientists have scrupulously gathered evidence and background information about the activities of the Conficker botnet. They have known for months that millions of machines worldwide had been infected with Conficker malware. Yet, no one reacted, only shoulders were shrugged. At govcert.nl in October, many were contemplating how to proceed with Conficker.
Starting today, Shadowserver let’s everyone know where these Conficker-infected machines are. The move is a valuable contribution to increase global transparency about the somewhat obscure botnet problem.
An interesting example from Germany immediately sticks out. 1&1, a big hosting and medium-sized accessed provider, had initiated an internal initiative against botnet-infected customer systems earlier this year. Today, only ten IP addresses and 0% of their routed space are assigned to infected machines. For customers of Deutsche Telekom, which hasn’t announced a similar program, things look worse: 0.1% of all IP addresses or more than 32,000 IP addresses belong to a Conficker-infected machine.