Officials at top-ranked Internet service provider AOL called numbers suggesting it is the most infected network on the Internet ''silly''.

Earlier this week, security vendor Prolexic Technologies reported distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks will most likely come from customers of the U.S.-based service provider than any other in the industry.

In most cases, DDoS attacks come from home computers that have been turned into zombies and used in a coordinated DDoS attack. They are much more effective, and dangerous, than DoS attacks coming from just one machine, which is limited in the amount of information it can send.

AOL topped the infection list at 5.32 percent, beating out Germany's Deutsche Telekom (3.55 percent) and France's Wanadoo (3.27 percent) in worldwide figures, and edging out broadband cable provider Comcast (10.66 percent) and carrier BellSouth (7.46 percent) in the U.S. at 11.71 percent.

Andrew Weinstein, an AOL spokesman, said the numbers are actually great news for the company, considering the method used to garner the statistics is based on membership numbers.

''We're the largest ISP, so we're going to have the largest of everything,'' he said. ''Even though we're several times larger than the next largest ISP, the rates of infection for those next-largest ISPs are basically the same.''

Weinstein acknowledges that a little more than 10 percent of the zombie attacks come from AOL. But he said the company accounts for roughly 40 percent -- or 21.7 million -- of the total U.S. Internet subscribers, so the report actually shows AOL customers are three to four times safer than the average user of another ISP.

''I think this report is kind of silly; it's like saying the U.S. is the most dangerous country to drive in because we have the most cars.''

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