The Lingering Damage Of Worms

By | March 4, 2004

Worms cause a lot of problems, long after we’ve forgotten about them.

Sandvine Incorporated, a network hardware provider, says that worm attacks are hitting internet service provider networks, “degrading the broadband experience for home Internet users and imposing anywhere from thousands to millions (of dollars) in unplanned network and customer support costs directly related to thwarting attacks”. This includes “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.”

Interestingly, Sandvine also point to another type of expensive worm activity: “persistent, low-level attack traffic caused by remnants of previous worms that tenaciously cling-on to residential subscriber PCs”. The bottom line: On any given day, approximately 5 per cent of home users are “infected by some kind of worm and either actively propagating it or generating malicious traffic”.

This lingering damage doesn’t surprise me. My understanding out here in dial-up land is that many users don’t have the bandwidth to download patches or updates, and don’t have the money to subscribe to anti-virus services, but they still stay online unless their ISP cracks down on them. That’s a lot of people connecting their infected computers to the Internet and pumping out viruses and worms we thought we’d seen the last of.

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