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Spam Kings by Brian S McWilliams

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Rise of the Spam Zombies

One Saturday night in mid-June of 2003, Spamhaus.org was staggered by unusually heavy visitor traffic. But this was no weekend rush by Internet users to review the latest Rokso listings. When Spamhaus director Steve Linford checked the site's log files from his control center in London, he discovered that hundreds of computers from all over the Internet were simultaneously bombarding one of Spamhaus's web servers with bogus requests for data. Spamhaus was under what computer experts call a distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) attack. Using special DDOS programs, attackers were trying to cripple Spamhaus with packets of data, rendering the site unusable by legitimate visitors.

Linford quickly fended off the attackers by adjusting the firewall that guarded the edge of Spamhaus's network. Spamhaus had been victimized by DDOS attacks in the past, and Linford might have headed off to bed without giving the matter further thought. But as he scanned the list of Internet protocol (IP) addresses of the computers trying to "packet" Spamhaus, he noticed something odd. Almost all of them were home PCs connected to the Internet via broadband Internet service providers such as Verizon, Comcast, Cox Communications, and Bell South.

For Linford, one of his worst fears was coming true. Since January, computer security experts had been tracking the gradual spread of SoBig, a new breed of computer virus. Once installed on a PC with a cable modem or DSL line, the software had ...

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