Botnet cleaning centre to tackle cyber crime

Last Updated 22 March 2014, 21:20 IST

The Union government is planning to set up a botnet cleaning centre to put an end to the increasing botnet malware infections across Internet-enabled devices in the country.

As per a proposal prepared by the Union Ministry of Communication and Technology, the centre will be set up at a cost of around Rs 50 crore with the cooperation of Internet service providers (ISP) over a six-month period.

As per data compiled by the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) and other government departments, the number of botnet-infected systems in the country was 25,915 in 2007 which peaked to about 65 lakh in 2012.

The number grew rapidly and reached 42 lakh systems in first half of 2013. Sources said the complexity and reach of malware are also increasing with botnets being reported not only in computer systems but also on mobile phone platforms, said the CERT in its report, adding that the main reason for the increase in infections has been attributed to the increase in internet penetration in the country. The term “bot” is derived from the word “robot”,  which listens to commands of its master and performs actions accordingly. Typically, the computer system is infected by a bot which reports to its master over a communication channel and listens for commands.

The remote server issuing commands to the bot is called command and control. A network of such compromised zombie computers running the bots is called botnet.

Attackers usually install bots by exploiting vulnerabilities in software or using social engineering tactics to trick users into installing malware.

“The bot-infected systems are under control of cyber criminals. The bots steal sensitive information such as online credentials, credit card numbers, email id and passwords etc which cause data loss and financial loss to victims,” CERT said in its proposal on setting up botnet cleaning centre in the country.

Criminals use botnets to send out spam email messages, spread viruses, attack computers and servers and commit other kinds of crime and fraud. It also slows down speed of infected computer or mobile phone.

Cyber criminals use Internet to plant malicious software or programmes in a system. In India, there are about 21 crore Internet connections, which includes both mobile phones and computers.

Several countries, including Australia, Germany, Japan, South Korea and the United States have taken initiative to detect and mitigate the botnets.

(Published 22 March 2014, 21:19 IST)

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