Lack of space may force world wide web to implode Massive demands being placed on the internet could soon see the network run out of web addresses, technology experts said yesterday. The internet was being threatened by mounting technological challenges, including increasingly malign software viruses and “botnets”. Although Internet Protocol 4 (IP4), which allows the network to operate, has scope for 4.3 billion web addresses, that was not sufficient to meet demand, said Vinton Cerf, the chairman of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which governs the net. Mr Cerf told Davos delegates that technological companies’ plans to create billions of devices that will communicate over the net would require many more web addresses if the system was not to implode.This meant there would soon need to be global agreement on a switch to an IP6 system that would massively expand the number of possible addresses. The growing shortage of web addresses was just one of many increasingly pernicious dangers to the web’s viability. These problems were so severe that some experts in yesterday’s Davos discussion even suggested that the internet in its present form may have to be abandoned if they were not effectively tackled. One key risk came from so-called “botnets”, malicious programs that can bury themselves deep in personal computers to carry out criminal actions from uncovering people’s passwords to pumping out spam e-mail. Delegates heard how more than 10 per cent or more of the world’s computers could be infected by the proliferating botnets, putting the entire global network in jeopardy. At one point recently, an attack by botnets had absorbed 15 per cent of Yahoo’s world search capacity. Mr Cerf compared the problem of botnets to “leaving your car parked in the driveway with the keys in the ignition”. But he also offered some reassurance, noting that the net was a “very, very resilient system”.