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Raising a Botnet in Captivity

By Technology Review

December 17, 2010

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To catch a criminal, sometimes you have to think like one.

So researchers on the trail of cybercrooks that use armies of infected computers, known as botnets, to send out spam e-mail or to attack websites are building botnets of their own. Fortunately, the new approach is being tested using a high-powered computing cluster that is safely isolated from the Internet.

"We set up what we thought would be the closest to a botnet in the wild," says Pierre-Marc Bureau, a researcher with computer security firm ESET, part of the project led by a team at Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal with collaborators at Nancy University, France, and Carlton University, Canada. "To our knowledge, this is the first such realistic experiment," he says.

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