Air Force Brass Suggests Carpet Bombing the Internet with BotNet vs. Bot-Net
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Air Force Colonel Charles W. Williamson III has written that the United States faces a growing number of increasingly complex and intricate threats to its military and civilian cyberspace, and that the current methods of defense are unfit for the purpose. If a concerted botnet cyberattack on U.S. military computers was launched as the U.S. prepared for off-line military action, the action could be delayed or stopped, or its effect blunted.

Thus Williamson is advocating what he calls “Carpet bombing in cyberspace” (yes, really) or, essentially, countering botnet attacks on U.S. military computers with an even bigger, government-controlled bot-net.


Government and military computers in the United States, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Estonia, Kyrgyztan and India have all recently come under attack from hackers and zombie machines launching massive distributed denials of service (DDoS). The open, decentralized, fault-tolerant and largely unregulated and loosely controlled nature of the Internet does exhibit some weakness when it comes to preventing cyberattackers from entering the traffic stream. Indeed, a recent estimate puts the DDoS load on the Internet as about 3%, peaking at 5%. Compare this with email, which makes up about 1% to 1.5% of Internet traffic.

Colonel Williamson’s idea is to turn this weakness into a US advantage by building a massive botnet, a collection of distributed computers able to generate an enormous amount of Internet traffic targeted at those computers that first attack the US. Bot-nets are often used by spammers and other online criminals, who surreptitiously infect the insecure computers of naive users with zombies and other malicious software; Chinese criminals are believed to have infected 750,000 computers in the US. Colonel Williamson would build his bot-net out of the thousands of computers that the US military would normally discard every year, and link them to the current high-speed intrusion detection systems, to ensure that any attempted attack would be quickly and overwhelmingly counter-attacked.

Would it work? Probably. But a sustained counter-attack with sufficient traffic to overwhelm cyberenemies would consume huge bandwidth and limit the ability of ordinary Internet users to go about their business, in the US and around the world. Indeed, the need to explain to an allied government why computers in their country were “reduced to hunks of metal and plastic” shows why the biggest challenge will be political in nature.

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Colonel Williamson believes that the US is not starting an arms race, but, rather, that “We are in one, and we are losing.” This is, though, an idea that would promote mutually assured destruction of the Internet’s utility.

No Paywall Here!
The Internet Patrol is and always has been free. We don't hide our articles behind a paywall, or restrict the number of articles you can read in a month if you don't give us money. That said, it does cost us money to run the site, so if something you read here was helpful or useful, won't you consider donating something to help keep the Internet Patrol free?
Click for amount options
Other Amount:
What info did you find here today?:

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