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Conficker hype obscures sneaky botnet growth

Cyberscamps merrily regrouping

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Spammers and other cybercrooks are rebuilding their arsenal of compromised machines after suffering a setback with the takedown of cybercrime-friendly ISP McColo last November.

Botherders have taken control of 12 million new IP addresses in the first quarter of 2009, a 50 per cent increase since the last quarter of 2008, according to a net security report from McAfee. The infamous Conficker superworm has occupied all the headlines, and makes a big contribution to the overall figure of pwned Windows PCs, but other strains of malware collectively make a big contribution to the number of compromised PCs.

The US plays home to 18 per cent of all botnet-infected computers, McAfee's Threats Report notes. Other findings within the study highlight the continuing use of the compromise of legitimate sites to distribute malware via drive-by download attacks.

Compared with the same quarter a year ago, junk mail volumes are down 20 per cent in Q1 2009. But even that glimmer of hope is dimmed by the nasty knowledge that cybercrooks are using more advanced tactics to distribute junk mail. ®

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