And Lyon knows the bad guys have gotten even better since. They’ve built zombie networks of 35,000 machines, capable of delivering a steady stream of 3Gb traffic. Peter Rendell, CEO of Top Layer Networks, which makes intrusion prevention and anti-DDoS hardware, says he expects botnets to pass 50,000 machines (and 4Gb to 5Gb) by the end of this year. It’s an arms race, as defenses scale, then offenses scale, though Lyon is convinced the defenses have far outpaced what extortionists can throw at them.
Some chilling statistics:
Anecdotally, experts from law enforcement and information security consultants believe that perhaps one in 10 companies has been threatened with online extortion; in one survey by Carnegie Mellon University researchers, 17 out of 100 small and midsize businesses reported being targeted. Interviews with security consultants and industry players suggest that as many as three out of four cases of online extortion are never reported. Maybe a third or more of targeted companies pay extortion fees, drawing the money from disaster funds, acceptable loss budgets or insurance. Consultants like to tell stories of being called for help after companies pay protection money twice.