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The enemy within

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A significant chunk (12 per cent) of all scanning attacks found on a broadband service provider's network are launched from the machines of its own subscribers. That's according to a study by traffic management firm Sandvine which says its findings dispel the idea the broadband security involves only policing the borders between external and internal networks. Subscribers need to be protected from each other as well as external malicious hosts, it concludes.

Most of these "internal attackers" are likely unsuspecting victims themselves, unwitting hosts to malware infections that turn their Windows PCs into zombie drones under the control of hackers. An infected subscriber often reports performance degradations and other problems to the help desk, oblivious to the real reason why their computer seems sluggish or is behaving strangely. All the while his (it's nearly always blokes who get their machine infected by viruses) machine is searching for other vulnerable hosts.

"If the enemy is already loose within the gates, it doesn’t matter how high the walls are," said Dave Caputo, president and Chief exec of Sandvine. Caputo argues strong network-edge and anti-virus defences are only one necessary part of defending against internet attacks. Naturally Sandvine is at hand to bridge this defensive gap with its anomaly detection and traffic management software. Sandvine study is based on networks data gathered across a sample of its broadband service provider customers. ®

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