Nearly 10 percent of all computers and laptops in the Netherlands are part of a botnet, a network of infected computers used to send bulk spam. According to research at TU Delft, commissioned by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation.
The researchers found between January 2009 and June 2010 1.1 million IP addresses, which correspond to between 450,000 and 900,000 infected computers. Approximately 60 percent of infected computers had an Internet connection at one of the three largest Dutch Internet providers.
Computer users often do not notice it when their computer is part of a botnet. The networks allow for sending spam on a large scale, but are also increasingly used for identity theft and attacks on company sites.
The researchers say the actual number of infected computers in the Netherlands is probably higher. That has to do with the research methods. The number of infections per Internet user in the Netherlands corresponds with the average of comparable countries. Dutch ISPs only contact a few of the infected clients (10 percent) in their network.
Botnets are the Swiss Army Knife of Internet criminals, according to Minister of Economic Affairs Maxime Verhagen. “There are all kinds of illegal activities conducted with and they undermine people’s confidence in the Internet. That is dangerous because the Internet is the source of innovation and a driver of new economic activities, “he said.
The Ministry seeks cooperation between Internet service providers, businesses and governments to prevent the spread of botnets and to make the Internet more secure.