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Researchers Spot New Threat: Peer to Peer Botnets

A team of computer security researchers from Johns Hopkins University, the University of North Carolina, and Georgia Tech are warning of a new generation of automated software intruders--peer to peer botnets--which they say pose an unprecedented threat because they possess no central point of failure that can be counter-attacked.

"Peer-to-peer botnets have the same basic goals of [centralized] botnets, which include information dispersion, information harvesting, and information processing," wrote the researchers, Julian Grizzard at Hopkins, Vikram Sharma at UNC-Charlotte, and David Dagon at Georgia Tech. But they are "distinctive from centralized botnets in that there is no central point of failure for a peer to peer botnet; however, peer to peer botnets must communicate with many different peers."

The researchers cautioned that there has been a recent trend in the increased development of peer to peer botnets, adding they "expect the level of sophistication to increase."

They pointed to the Agobot, one of the most successful IRC-based botnets. "We imagine that the peer to peer equivalent of Agobot may be released in the near future and will show a similar trend.:

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About the Author

Paul McCloskey is contributing editor of Syllabus.

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