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Six botnets the culprit of 85 percent of all global spam


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February 29, 2008

According to recent data compiled by Internet security company Marshal, only six botnets are responsible for more than 85 percent of all global e-mail spam. Overall, the Srizbi botnet is generally recognized as being the largest single source of spam, accounting for almost 40 percent of spam e-mail messages globally.

The Srizbi botnet is followed closely by the Rustock botnet, responsible for more than 20 percent of the average spam clogging up Internet mail servers and users' inboxes.

E-mail spam coming from the Mega-D botnet, which Marshal said was the leading source of junk mail early this month, was temporarily stemmed after its control servers were taken down two weeks ago.

The estimated 35,000 zombie clients associated with the Mega-D botnet were infected with the Ozdok Trojan.

After 10 days of inactivity, spam from compromised hosts began flowing again Feb. 25, after hackers re-established control of their illicit servers. Despite the break in transmission, Spam-D accounted for an estimated 11 per cent of junk mail hitting Marshal's spam traps during February.

The notorious Storm botnet, estimated to include about 85,000 additional hosts that got severely compromised, is thought to be responsible for only three per cent of global spam.

"The size of a botnet, measured by how many bots it has, does not necessarily correlate with how much spam it sends. Our team has observed huge variations in the rate at which different spambots pump out spam," said Bradley Anstis, vice-president of products at Marshal.

In some cases that appear to be getting worse, email spammers have access to multiple botnets. In addition to Mega-D, other botnets, including Srizbi, Rustock, Hacktool.Spammer and Pushdo have all been simultaneously sending spam promoting Express Herbals, a line of male enhancement pills.

According to fresh statistics compiled this month from managed security firm Network Box, the U.S. continued to pump out the most spam and spread the most viruses. The country accounted for 13 percent of all viruses.

The U.S. was also the source of 15 percent of all spam, more than double its closest junk mail rival, Turkey.

Globally, there are many ISPs and Web hosting providers such as Avantex and Sun Hosting that have significantly increased their war ammunitions against spam by installing sophisticated and costly spam filters on all their email servers. They now report that overall email spam is down more than 40 percent since the implementation of these new and more powerful spam filters.

However, both hosting providers also ackowledged that spam is still a growing problem and that hosting providers and ISPs need to unite and work together in better fighting this growing problem.

Other active spam botnets include Hacktool.Spammer (AKA Spam-Mailer) and botnets associated with the Pushdo (AKA Pandex) family of malware.

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Source: Marshal Internet Security.


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