Feeds

Windows worms tax ISPs

European ISPs hit for €123m in 2004

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

Computer worms will cost European ISPs an estimated €123m this year, according to a study by Sandvine. The Net traffic management firm says its study shows attacks on European service providers are now a daily occurrence.

Although worms are usually associated with attacks on corporate networks, the malicious traffic also ties up service provider networks, degrading the broadband experience for home Internet users. Meanwhile, outbreaks of computer worms generate a huge upsurge in support calls to ISPs. On any given day, between five and 12 per cent of all Internet traffic moving across European ISP networks is malicious, according to Sandvine.

Counting the costs

Working from metrics derived from its European customers and other industry research, Sandvine reckons that worm attacks will cost the European service provider sector more than €123m in 2004 and €159m in 2005. The problem will cause UK ISPs €22.4m this year. French ISPs will haemorrhage €17.9m and German ISPs €22.7m for the same reason, according to Sandvine.

These estimates cover the cost of specialised tactical response teams, swamping of customer support resources, inflated transit costs and perhaps most damaging over the long term, a loss of brand equity that aggravates the industry-wide problem of customer churn. Estimating the financial cost of computer worms is a notoriously inexact science but Sandvine's argument - that broadband firms are suffering financially because of computer worms - remains sound.

"The quickening pace of worm attacks makes understanding their impact on service providers increasingly urgent," said Tom Donnelly, co-founder and marketing veep at Sandvine. "Worms exact a massive toll by forcing service providers to mobilise premium resources in order to quell attacks and protect the subscriber experience."

Sandvine researchers have also uncovered another type of expensive worm activity: persistent, low-level attack traffic caused by remnants of previous worms which cling-on tenanciously to residential subscriber PCs. Cumulatively, worms of both magnitudes are now an operational preoccupation for network managers and a worrisome drag on ISP profit margins, Sandvine says.

Windows security tax

Linux worms are not unknown (lion for example) but the vast majority of Worms exploit vulnerable Microsoft systems to spread: Code Red, Nimda, Blaster, Sasser - the list goes on. The pain experienced by telcos was a driving factor behind Microsoft's release of tool to purge systems infected by Blaster. Defending systems against Blaster-style attacks has created a new segment in the security market which host-based intrusion prevention firms (Cisco, PrevX, SecureWave), firewall vendors (Check Point etc.) and filtering firms (Scan Safe etc.) are all eager to tap into. There's a gradual realisation that the AV scanner approach by itself doesn't defend against Nimda-style attacks.

This month analyst firm Gartner advised its customers to budget for extra security spending on Windows desktops (like better patch management and intrusion prevention) in the wake of the problems caused by the Sasser worm. So computer worms have become an extra tax burden on both end users and ISPs. Unless Microsoft lifts this burden through addressing the root causes - vulnerabilities in Windows - it risks making alternatives look increasingly attractive. ®

Related stories

Attack of the Profit-Killer Worms
P2P swamps broadband networks
Sasser ups cost of Windows - Gartner
Sasser creates European pandemonium
Blaster body count '8m or above' - MS
Blaster beats up British business
Blaster rewrites Windows worm rules

Related links

Worms gobbling ISP profits: The financial impact of attack traffic on European service provider networks, Sandvine white paper.

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
The Return of BSOD: Does ANYONE trust Microsoft patches?
Sysadmins, you're either fighting fires or seen as incompetents now
Microsoft: Azure isn't ready for biz-critical apps … yet
Microsoft will move its own IT to the cloud to avoid $200m server bill
US regulators OK sale of IBM's x86 server biz to Lenovo
Now all that remains is for gov't offices to ban the boxes
Death by 1,000 cuts: Mainstream storage array suppliers are bleeding
Cloud, all-flash kit, object storage slicing away at titans of storage
Oracle reveals 32-core, 10 BEEELLION-transistor SPARC M7
New chip scales to 1024 cores, 8192 threads 64 TB RAM, at speeds over 3.6GHz
VMware vaporises vCHS hybrid cloud service
AnD yEt mOre cRazy cAps to dEal wIth
El Reg's virtualisation desk pulls out the VMworld crystal ball
MARVIN musings and other Gelsinger Gang guessing games
Object storage bods Exablox: RAID is dead, baby. RAID is dead
Bring your own disks to its object appliances
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?