Better late than never to the cyber arms race

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The U.S. Air Force announced it plans to construct a large botnet. The term Botnet is jargon for a collection of software robots, referred to as bots, that take over and run autonomously or by remote control on infected computers. These bots present a serious security threat to the computer owner. Cyber militaries and hackers leverage the combined power of hundreds of thousands or even hundreds of millions of computers that have been compromised to pump out spam e-mail or disable targeted servers by overwhelming them with Internet traffic.

There are over 100 million computers that have been compromised and are now part of botnets. The largest botnet is thought to owned and operated by the RBN -- Russian Business Network. They lease capacity of their botnet for spamming and other more sinister purposes. The second largest botnet is owned and operated by the Chinese military. The estimated size of their botnet is put at 85 million and growing fast.

Military Applications

Espionage - collecting information from the network of computers that have been infected with the malicious code. Collecting keystroke information that contains log-ins, IDs and sensitive information or actually capturing screen shots of what the user is doing.

DDoS - the network of computers can be remotely commanded to start flooding a target system with transaction, overwhelming it until it shuts down

A bit late to the game, the U.S. Air Force has to rapidly construct their botnet. In the May edition of the Armed Forces Journal, Col. Charles Williamson III outlined the cyber warfare strategy being hashed out by the U.S. military. There are reports that the plan calls for using the publics computers to create this offensive cyber weapon. There is no question in the minds of many who are working in the cyber warfare field that the U.S. must create cyber weapons and that a botnet is just one of the many that need to be in our arsenal. But the devil is in the details!

-- Kevin Coleman

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