Information Warfare: Spam Rules

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May 5, 2007: It's no secret that Cyber War is constantly changing. Spammers and hackers are in a constant state of "war" on the web, and are forced to constantly innovate. On the other side are security firms, and the security personnel for ISPs and companies large and small. They stay in business by responding to the cyber crooks.

In the last year, there has been a major change in web weaponry. The DDOS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack has fallen out of favor. DDOS is used to shut down a site with a flood of garbage messages, generated from thousands of "zombie PCs" (machines hackers have earlier seized control of). But there are ways to deflect this flood of message traffic, and even identify the PCs they are coming from. This leads to many of the zombies being cleaned up, and removed from the hacker controlled botnet. Because its expensive to obtain and maintain control of zombies, the gangs that control the botnets are charging more for DDOS attacks, and so fewer of these attacks are being used.

Replacing the DDOS attack are costlier methods, like secretly hacking into a target site, and planting software that will screw it up. In theory, the planted software can be cleaned out. But the plants are getting more sophisticated, and can now keep the cleaning crews busy for days.

The botnets are making a lot more money sending spam, and trying to infect additional PCs and turn them into zombies. The new techniques developed by the hackers have been adapted for military use, and military system administrators spend a lot of time trying to detect any infiltrations. All this is not some future war, but one that is going on right now, and has been growing in intensity over the last decade.

 


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