Thursday, March 31, 2011

Google paints malware bullseye on Kansas City, Kansas

Google announced on 30-Mar-2011 that Kansas City, Kansas (KCK) would be the first city to receive ultra-high-speed broadband on the company's dime.

Google has also stated that this is the first of many cities—not the only—that will receive their attention.

When Google first announced the project, they made it pretty clear that they'll be offering competitive pricing, but the pipe will be huge: gigabit fibre to the curb. The project is ambitious and potentially wonderful for those areas receiving the attention.

It will be interesting to see the fallout in KCK from the incumbents in the telco/cable duopoly. To start with, expect lawsuits. Incumbents don't like it when new players invade "their turf"; and when the city government is "in cahoots" with the new guy, there's not much room for backroom deals to quash the competition.

The second thing to expect is competition; however, I don't see that happening anywhere but within the active service boundaries. I have a friend who lived in an area with a single cable provider; he was at their mercy for Internet pricing, and DSL wasn't a viable option because of the distance to the C/O. When a second cable provider started installing their plant in his neighborhood, he tried to get some competitive pricing from the incumbent. It shouldn't come as a surprise that they were not willing to help him out: although they knew there was competition in the neighborhood, they also knew that his specific household couldn't get service from the new operator—even though the guy across the street could. Only once the new operator built out further and was able to offer service to his household was the old company interested in offering a better price. My friend opted for the new company as much out of spite as anything else.

The third thing to expect, however, is probably not on many people's radar just yet: expect KCK to become a hotbed for bot-herder interest. It's pretty logical:
  • The average Internet user—either business or personal consumers—won't have the resources or skill to safeguard system(s) from malware, especially if under persistent scrutiny and attack.
  • A fat-pipe zombie is a much more valuable asset to a bot-herder than a small-pipe zombie.
Put those together, and I'm afraid that you'll see KCK join the ranks of geographic hotspots for spam and other zombie-machine activity.

Don't get me wrong: I'm happy for KCK and how this will (hopefully) provide a positive impact on the rest of the Kansas City metro area (where I happen to live). But you can bet that the malware community will also be watching this with interest and work to find ways to take advantage of those lucky subscribers' machines—and the big, fat Google-pipes to which they're attached.

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