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
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-7896
Published: 2015-03-03
Multiple cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities in HP XP P9000 Command View Advanced Edition Software Online Help, as used in HP Device Manager 6.x through 8.x before 8.1.2-00, HP XP P9000 Tiered Storage Manager 6.x through 8.x before 8.1.2-00, HP XP P9000 Replication Manager 6.x and 7.x before ...

CVE-2014-9283
Published: 2015-03-03
The BestWebSoft Captcha plugin before 4.0.7 for WordPress allows remote attackers to bypass the CAPTCHA protection mechanism and obtain administrative access via unspecified vectors.

CVE-2014-9683
Published: 2015-03-03
Off-by-one error in the ecryptfs_decode_from_filename function in fs/ecryptfs/crypto.c in the eCryptfs subsystem in the Linux kernel before 3.18.2 allows local users to cause a denial of service (buffer overflow and system crash) or possibly gain privileges via a crafted filename.

CVE-2015-0656
Published: 2015-03-03
Cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability in the login page in Cisco Network Analysis Module (NAM) allows remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via unspecified vectors, aka Bug ID CSCum81269.

CVE-2015-0890
Published: 2015-03-03
The BestWebSoft Google Captcha (aka reCAPTCHA) plugin before 1.13 for WordPress allows remote attackers to bypass the CAPTCHA protection mechanism and obtain administrative access via unspecified vectors.

Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
How can security professionals better engage with their peers, both in person and online? In this Dark Reading Radio show, we will talk to leaders at some of the security industry’s professional organizations about how security pros can get more involved – with their colleagues in the same industry, with their peers in other industries, and with the IT security community as a whole.