Arrest of botnet owners may reduce spam traffic

February 22, 2008

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CBC News reports that the Quebec provincial police have dismantled a computer hacking network that targeted unprotected personal computers around the world. These so called botnets are commonly used to perform hacking attacks against other computers and servers. Botnets are also widely used as senders of millions and millions of spam messages. So will this arrest decrease the spam traffic?By using many innocent personal computers, where each computer send their share of the spam messages, the spammers are trying to masquerade the spam attack as “normal” e-mail traffic, avoiding a single e-mail server to be blocked. These kinds of attacks slip through many basic IP-filters which keep track of servers currently known for sending spam. For SpamDrain however, messages sent using botnet attacks are no harder to stop than any other spam messages since the entire contents of the messages are analyzed by the intelligent filter engine.

More interesting than discussing whether spam messages are blocked or not, is if this arrest will decrease the spam traffic in the world. One million computers are a lot of potential spam sources. On the other hand, the hijacked computers are most likely still hijacked and open for other hackers even though the persons arrested are the ones who control them. Hence they are the ones who know where the computers are located and how to send tasks for them to perform. Such a task could be sending a bunch of spam. In other words, it may be hard for other people to instantly take to same level of control over the botnet as the people now arrested used to have.

On the other hand, you may wonder if the arrested hackers are the only ones controlling the botnet. If not – it will most likely soon be up and running again as normal.

So will the spam traffic be reduced? We will certainly keep our eyes on our statistics for the next couple of weeks even though I suspect that this arrest will have little impact on the over all amount of spam being sent. I don’t know why but that’s a feeling I have. Spammers seem to find their way around most obstacles – except SpamDrain, that is…;-)

More information about the spam filtering service SpamDrain.

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