Govt proposes centre to tackle botnet attacks
Going by its name, it’s difficult to guess how one of the most widespread botnets in the world—Cutwail — operates. Present in about half the infected computers in India, it is perhaps largely responsible for the country’s position as the leading generator of spam in the world. This botnet — short for ro‘bot’ — installs itself on unsuspecting computers and is driven by a remote command and control centre, generating spam from the systems of users who might not even suspect its presence.
As India emerges as one of the top 10 sources of botnets in the world, Cutwail is just one of the dozens of botnets the government is trying to weed out by setting up a botnet-cleaning centre in the country.
About four million computers in India were infested with botnets, J Satyanarayana, secretary in the Department of Electronics and Information Technology, told Business Standard. “It (the cleaning centre) should be operational by June next year,” he said, adding the proposed centre would keep “sucking information” and would know where the majority of the viruses were coming from.
It is expected the Centre would secure approval for the project by the end of this year. The government has claimed the project, which would entail an investment of Rs 80 crore, wouldn’t intrude upon the privacy of individual users in any way.
This is the first major policy initiative on this front, after the government unveiled the national cyber security policy in July this year.
Globally, most countries have centres to stem the spread of viruses.
According to McAfee Labs, India is one of the top seven (it ranks seventh) botnet victims in the world; the number of botnet senders in the country rose 14 per cent in the quarter ended June.
Once the project is implemented, users of infected computers would be sent alerts by the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT). They would also be provided resources to “clean-up” their systems and direct traffic to a sink-hole where it would die a natural death. A government official privy to the plans said if someone’s computer was infected, CERT would inform the person concerned that under the Information Technology Act, he/she would be punishable. “Then, you can’t say I was not aware.”
The Information Technology Act mandates computer users to take reasonable safeguards to protect their machines and prevent these from harming others.
McAfee says through the past year, spam volumes for India fell sharply —from about 65 million in July 2012 to about 20 million in June this year. This is in contrast to global spam volumes touching a record two trillion messages this year. During the same period, India also saw a marginal fall in the botnet, in line with the decline in botnets globally. However, “India appears to have benefited from major recent botnet takedowns by Microsoft, the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) and other law enforcement agencies,” said Vinoo Thomas, product manager, McAfee Labs. The authorities responsible for protecting India’s internet infrastructure should take a proactive approach to shut similar botnet command and control servers operating out of India, Thomas added.
*Source: Business Standard