African IT experts estimate an 80% infection rate on all PCs continent-wide, including government computers. It is the cyber equivalent of a pandemic. Few can afford to pay for anti-virus software, and for those who can, the download time on a dial-up connection makes the update out of date by the time the download is complete.
Now, with the arrival of broadband service delivered via undersea cables such as Seacom (2009), Teams cable (September 2009), and the East African Submarine Cable System (2010), created one of the unsafe target-rich environment of almost 100 million computers available for botnet herders to add infected hosts to their computer armies.
One botnet of one million hosts could conservatively generate enough traffic to take most Fortune 500 companies collectively offline. A botnet of 10 million hosts (like Conficker) could paralyze the network infrastructure of a major Western nation.
As of today, there is no unified front to combat botnets of this size. However, since these botnets are Windows-based, a switch to the Linux operating system is a feasible alternative being floated to address the African crisis.
Expert suggest another would be for anti-virus (AV) companies to provide free subscriptions to African residents. A third would require that Microsoft radically modify its policy about pirated versions of Windows and make its security patches available to all who request them, regardless of whether they have genuine software loaded on their boxes.
The participation of the software industry is crucial as governments and the private sector face both criminal and geopolitical adversaries in a domain that has been in existence only since the birth of the World Wide Web in 1990, a domain that millions of individuals are impacting, shaping, and transforming on a daily, even hourly, basis.