Risk
11/18/2010
11:53 AM
50%
50%

Researchers Link Most Spam To Only 50 ISPs

Discovery that spammers are using only a relative handful of Internet providers suggests new ways of stopping botnets.

How Firesheep Can Hijack Web Sessions
(click image for larger view)
Slideshow: How Firesheep Can Hijack Web Sessions

Only 50 Internet service providers (ISPs) host the majority of the world's spam, according to a new study, and that finding could reshape private and public approaches to combating the botnets that infect computers and then use them as spam mailers.

The study was conducted for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) by researchers at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands and Michigan State University, who examined 109 billion spam messages from 170 million unique IP addresses, gathered via a "spam trap" from 2005 to 2009.

One major finding is that where there's spam, you'll find an infected -- aka zombie -- machine. That's because according to the study data, on average 80% to 90% of the world's spam comes from infected machines.

Researchers also found that the 33 member countries that comprise the OECD, as well as Estonia, the Russian Federation, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, and South Africa, "harbor over 60% of all infected machines worldwide registered by the spam trap." In other words, the majority of infected machines aren't laying low in countries nearly off the grid.

But perhaps the biggest surprise, said the researchers, was that "we discovered that infected machines display a highly concentrated pattern." In particular, "the networks of just 50 ISPs account for around half of all infected machines worldwide." In other words, "the bulk of the infected machines are not located in the networks of obscure or rogue ISPs, but in those of established, well-known ISPs."

The results suggest a formidable new way to block botnets. With a caution that historical data is no guarantee of future botnet behavior, the researchers said that "current efforts to bring about collective action -- through industry self-regulation, co-regulation, or government intervention -- might initially achieve progress by focusing on the set of ISPs that together have the lion's share of the market."

In other words, if policymakers want to maximize their bang for buck, start by improving the security practices of the 50 ISPs that host half the world's spam.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
Security Operations and IT Operations: Finding the Path to Collaboration
A wide gulf has emerged between SOC and NOC teams that's keeping both of them from assuring the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of IT systems. Here's how experts think it should be bridged.
Flash Poll
New Best Practices for Secure App Development
New Best Practices for Secure App Development
The transition from DevOps to SecDevOps is combining with the move toward cloud computing to create new challenges - and new opportunities - for the information security team. Download this report, to learn about the new best practices for secure application development.
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2017-0290
Published: 2017-05-09
NScript in mpengine in Microsoft Malware Protection Engine with Engine Version before 1.1.13704.0, as used in Windows Defender and other products, allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code or cause a denial of service (type confusion and application crash) via crafted JavaScript code within ...

CVE-2016-10369
Published: 2017-05-08
unixsocket.c in lxterminal through 0.3.0 insecurely uses /tmp for a socket file, allowing a local user to cause a denial of service (preventing terminal launch), or possibly have other impact (bypassing terminal access control).

CVE-2016-8202
Published: 2017-05-08
A privilege escalation vulnerability in Brocade Fibre Channel SAN products running Brocade Fabric OS (FOS) releases earlier than v7.4.1d and v8.0.1b could allow an authenticated attacker to elevate the privileges of user accounts accessing the system via command line interface. With affected version...

CVE-2016-8209
Published: 2017-05-08
Improper checks for unusual or exceptional conditions in Brocade NetIron 05.8.00 and later releases up to and including 06.1.00, when the Management Module is continuously scanned on port 22, may allow attackers to cause a denial of service (crash and reload) of the management module.

CVE-2017-0890
Published: 2017-05-08
Nextcloud Server before 11.0.3 is vulnerable to an inadequate escaping leading to a XSS vulnerability in the search module. To be exploitable a user has to write or paste malicious content into the search dialogue.

Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
In past years, security researchers have discovered ways to hack cars, medical devices, automated teller machines, and many other targets. Dark Reading Executive Editor Kelly Jackson Higgins hosts researcher Samy Kamkar and Levi Gundert, vice president of threat intelligence at Recorded Future, to discuss some of 2016's most unusual and creative hacks by white hats, and what these new vulnerabilities might mean for the coming year.