from Information Week.
The growing Storm Worm botnet has enough distributed power to launch a damaging attack.
The Storm worm botnet has grown so massive and far-reaching that it easily overpowers the world’s top supercomputers.
That’s the latest word from security researchers who are tracking the burgeoning network of Microsoft Windows machines that have been compromised by the virulent Storm worm, which has pounded the Internet non-stop for the past three months. Despite the wide ranging estimates as to the size of the botnet, researchers tend to agree that it’s one of the largest zombie grids they’ve ever seen — one capable of doing great damage.
“In terms of power, [the botnet] utterly blows the supercomputers away,” said Matt Sergeant, chief anti-spam technologist with MessageLabs, in an interview. “If you add up all 500 of the top supercomputers, it blows them all away with just 2 million of its machines. It’s very frightening that criminals have access to that much computing power, but there’s not much we can do about it.”
Sergeant said researchers at MessageLabs see about 2 million different computers in the botnet sending out spam on any given day, and he adds that he estimates the botnet generally is operating at about 10% of capacity. “We’ve seen spikes where the owner is experimenting with something and those spikes are usually five to 10 times what we normally see,” he said, noting he suspects the botnet could be as large as 50 million computers. “That means they can turn on the taps whenever they want to.”
No one could provide detailed and specific comparisons between the strength of the botnet and the top supercomputers, mainly because it is hard to know for sure the size of the botnet or the power of each computer that is part of the botnet.
Adam Swidler, a senior manager with security company Postini, told InformationWeek that while he thinks the botnet is in the 1 million to 2 million range, he still thinks it can easily overpower a major supercomputer. “If you calculate pure theoretical throughput, then I’m sure the botnet has more capacity than [IBM’s] BlueGene. If you sat them down to play chess, the botnet would win.”