Feeds

ISPs turn blind eye to million-machine malware monster

Cablevision and Comcast coddling criminals?

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Several weeks ago, security researcher Lawrence Baldwin dispatched an urgent email to abuse handlers at OptimumOnline, the broadband provider owned by Cablevision, warning that one of its customers stood to lose more than $60,000 to cyber crooks.

"He's got a keylogger on his system . . . below is a log of the miscreant viewing the info that was logged from his system while accessing his [Bank of America] accounts," Baldwin's email read. "Looks like he's got nearly $60K in there, so a lot at stake. Can you get someone to phone me that might be able to establish contact with this customer?"

The email, which was addressed to a specific handler's email address and was also copied to OptimumOnline's abuse desk, went on to provide the user's IP address and enough specifics to suggest Baldwin's claim of a keylogger was probably accurate. Yet, more than three weeks later, Baldwin still hasn't heard back from the company.

"Normally, I don't bother because I think this is going to be a complete waste of time," says Baldwin, who is chief forensics officer for myNetWatchman.com. "The abuse and security department at an ISP is the bastard step-child component of a service provider. In some sense, they're doomed to failure by design."

Absentee Landlords

Talk to anyone who makes a living sniffing out online fraud, and you'll hear the same story over and over. Researcher uncovers the source of a massive amount of spam, identifies an IP address that is part of a botnet or stumbles upon a phishing site that's spoofing a trusted online brand. Researcher dutifully reports the incident to the internet service provider whose network is being used, only to find the bad behavior continues unabated for days, weeks and even months.

A lack of engagement from ISPs is nothing new, but it has continued even as the malware scourge makes steady gains.

No one really knows exactly how many infected PCs are out there, but just about everyone agrees the number is high and growing. Accepting even conservative estimates that 10 percent of machines are part of a botnet means that tens of millions of systems are actively sending spam, launching denial-of-service attacks, and spewing all sorts of other malicious traffic across networks owned by the world's biggest ISPs.

According to figures from researcher Peter Gutmann, the Storm Worm alone is believed to comprise from 1m to 10m CPUs, creating one of the world's most powerful computers.

"This may be the first time that a top 10 supercomputer has been controlled not by a government or mega-corporation but by criminals," Gutmann says.

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SMASH the Bash bug! Apple and Red Hat scramble for patch batches
'Applying multiple security updates is extremely difficult'
Apple's new iPhone 6 vulnerable to last year's TouchID fingerprint hack
But unsophisticated thieves need not attempt this trick
Hackers thrash Bash Shellshock bug: World races to cover hole
Update your gear now to avoid early attacks hitting the web
Oracle SHELLSHOCKER - data titan lists unpatchables
Database kingpin lists 32 products that can't be patched (yet) as GNU fixes second vuln
Who.is does the Harlem Shake
Blame it on LOLing XSS terroristas
Researchers tell black hats: 'YOU'RE SOOO PREDICTABLE'
Want to register that domain? We're way ahead of you.
Stunned by Shellshock Bash bug? Patch all you can – or be punished
UK data watchdog rolls up its sleeves, polishes truncheon
Ello? ello? ello?: Facebook challenger in DDoS KNOCKOUT
Gets back up again after half an hour though
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.