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RealTime IT News

AOL The Most Infected? That's 'Silly'

Officials at top-ranked Internet service provider AOL said that numbers suggesting it is the most infected network on the Internet "silly."

Earlier this week security vendor Prolexic Technologies reported distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks will most likely come from customers of the U.S.-based service provider than any other in the industry.

In most cases, DDoS attacks come from home computers that have been turned into zombies and used in a coordinated DDoS attack. They are much more effective, and dangerous, than DoS attacks coming from just one machine, which is limited in the amount of information it can send.

AOL topped the infection list at 5.32 percent, beating out Germany's Deutsche Telekom (3.55 percent) and France's Wanadoo (3.27 percent) in worldwide figures, and edging out broadband cable provider Comcast (10.66 percent) and carrier BellSouth (7.46 percent) in the U.S. at 11.71 percent.

Andrew Weinstein, an AOL spokesman, said the numbers are actually great news for the company, considering the method used to garner the statistics is based on membership numbers.

"We're the largest ISP, so we're going to have the largest of everything," he said. "Even though we're several times larger than the next largest ISP, the rates of infection for those next-largest ISPs are basically the same."

Weinstein acknowledges that a little more than 10 percent of the zombie attacks come from AOL. But he said the company accounts for roughly 40 percent -- or 21.7 million -- of the total U.S. Internet subscribers, so the report actually shows AOL customers are three to four times safer than the average user of another ISP.

"I think this report is kind of silly; it's like saying the U.S. is the most dangerous country to drive in because we have the most cars."

Other statistics from the Prolexic report show U.S. networks have a higher infection rate than any other, at 18 percent. Second on the list is China, followed by Germany, the United Kingdom, France and Brazil.

However, when ranked per capita, the U.S. is ranked ninth in the world, well below Hong Kong, Germany and Malaysia.

Officials at Prolexic were not available for comment at press time.

In April, security firm CipherTrust found more than 20 percent of the 157,000 new zombies identified daily come from China, though the U.S. and South Korea figure prominently in the zombie numbers.

The proliferation of infected computers has caught the eye of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which last month launched a campaign urging more than 3,000 ISPs worldwide to take protective measures to halt the number of zombied computers.