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
Five Things Every Business Executive Should Know About Cybersecurity
Don't get lost in security's technical minutiae - a clearer picture of what's at stake can help align business imperatives with technology execution.
Flash Poll
Dark Reading Strategic Security Report: The Impact of Enterprise Data Breaches
Dark Reading Strategic Security Report: The Impact of Enterprise Data Breaches
Social engineering, ransomware, and other sophisticated exploits are leading to new IT security compromises every day. Dark Reading's 2016 Strategic Security Survey polled 300 IT and security professionals to get information on breach incidents, the fallout they caused, and how recent events are shaping preparations for inevitable attacks in the coming year. Download this report to get a look at data from the survey and to find out what a breach might mean for your organization.
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2013-7445
Published: 2015-10-15
The Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) subsystem in the Linux kernel through 4.x mishandles requests for Graphics Execution Manager (GEM) objects, which allows context-dependent attackers to cause a denial of service (memory consumption) via an application that processes graphics data, as demonstrated b...

CVE-2015-4948
Published: 2015-10-15
netstat in IBM AIX 5.3, 6.1, and 7.1 and VIOS 2.2.x, when a fibre channel adapter is used, allows local users to gain privileges via unspecified vectors.

CVE-2015-5660
Published: 2015-10-15
Cross-site request forgery (CSRF) vulnerability in eXtplorer before 2.1.8 allows remote attackers to hijack the authentication of arbitrary users for requests that execute PHP code.

CVE-2015-6003
Published: 2015-10-15
Directory traversal vulnerability in QNAP QTS before 4.1.4 build 0910 and 4.2.x before 4.2.0 RC2 build 0910, when AFP is enabled, allows remote attackers to read or write to arbitrary files by leveraging access to an OS X (1) user or (2) guest account.

CVE-2015-6333
Published: 2015-10-15
Cisco Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC) 1.1j allows local users to gain privileges via vectors involving addition of an SSH key, aka Bug ID CSCuw46076.

Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Security researchers are finding that there's a growing market for the vulnerabilities they discover and persistent conundrum as to the right way to disclose them. Dark Reading editors will speak to experts -- Veracode CTO and co-founder Chris Wysopal and HackerOne co-founder and CTO Alex Rice -- about bug bounties and the expanding market for zero-day security vulnerabilities.