Panda Software says bots have earned the dubious distinction of establishing themselves as a major threat on the Internet.
According to the company's PandaLabs, bots (remotely controllable malware) increased by about 175 percent from 2004 to 2005, with more than 10,000 examples appearing, representing 20 percent of the new malware Panda detected in 2005.
"Botnets are one of the current business tools of cybercrime", said Luis Corrons, director of PandaLabs, in a statement. "The biggest danger lies in their secrecy: a large company could be serving the interests of a group of malware creators without realizing it. Their computers could be at the disposal of these cyber-crooks, and the legal implications that they might create for the company itself."
According to the company, the rise of bots coincides with the ongoing professionalization of criminal behavior over the Internet. Panda says that's because botnets are often created by so-called "herders" who then hire the botnet out to "spammers, blackmailers, and entities motivated by profit" who use them to carry out denial of service attacks, plant spyware or act as spam relays.
Enterprise Networking Planet discussed botnets in more detail last May in our feature "Botnets: Who Really "0wns" Your Computers? "