Storm network more powerful than top 10 supercomputers

Posted on Tuesday, Sep 04 2007 @ 00:02 CEST by Thomas De Maesschalck
Security experts estimate the total amount of Windows PCs infected by the Storm worm has grown beyond the millions. There's lot of uncertainty about the exact number though, some folks say it's 1 million while other sources believe it's closer to 10 million.

If the Storm Worm has indeed infected 10 million PCs this bot network may be more powerful than the top 10 supercomputers combined, according to Peter Gutmann, a computer science professor with the University of Auckland in New Zealand.

Gutmann says the average infected PC is close to the class of machine used by the average computer gamer. According to data from game developer Valve's Steam network this means a PC with a 2.3-3.3GHz processor with about 1GB of memory.
If we assume the average Storm worm victim machine falls within this range, the Storm cluster has the equivalent of one to 10 million 2.8 GHz Pentium 4 processors with one to 10 million petabytes worth of RAM. Whether we're talking about disk space or the size of a computer's temporary memory space, a petabyte is a truly staggering number. To put the size of a petabyte into perspective, Google, as of Aug. 2007, uses between 20 and 200 petabytes of disk space, according to In comparison, Gutmann said, BlueGene/L currently contains 128,000 computer processor cores, and has a paltry 32 terabytes of RAM. A terabyte is about 1,000 times smaller than a petabyte.

In fact, Gutmann said, the Storm botnet has better hardware resources than the entire world's top 10 supercomputers.
This huge amount of raw computing power could be abused by criminals to take down parts of the Internet or to crack complex encryption keys which are used to secure e-commerce transactions.

About the Author

Thomas De Maesschalck

Thomas has been messing with computer since early childhood and firmly believes the Internet is the best thing since sliced bread. Enjoys playing with new tech, is fascinated by science, and passionate about financial markets. When not behind a computer, he can be found with running shoes on or lifting heavy weights in the weight room.

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