Worms and other malware are placing a constant drain on service providers, resulting in higher costs and lower levels of service to customers, even if they are not themselves victims of the malware.
Sandvine Inc., a network vendor based in Ontario, measured network traffic among its customers and companies, and reported that on average five percent of internet activity is related to malware in one way or another, with some cases as high as 12%.
ISPs are shouldering the worst of the impact, said Tom Donnelly, co-founder of Sandvine. "Worms exact a massive toll by forcing service providers to mobilise premium resources in order to quell attacks and protect the subscriber."
Sandvine estimates the overhead will cost service providers $245 million this year in the US alone, measured in support costs, customer business and security responses. When the background hum of worm traffic is added to spam email (now estimated at over 60%), the impact is even higher.
With ISPs experiencing a steady drain on resources and revenue, their customers inevitably suffer lower levels of service and higher costs.
In addition to active worms, the report shows a steady drain from persistent traffic caused by previous worms which remain active on systems, typically home broadband connections without the advantage of corporate security policies.