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Storm Worm Botnet Partitions May Be Up For Sale 192

Posted by Zonk
from the if-only-they'd-use-their-powers-for-good dept.
Bowling for cents writes "There is evidence that the massive Storm Worm botnet is being broken up into smaller networks, and a ZDNet post thinks that's a surefire sign that the CPU power is up for sale to spammers and denial-of-service attackers. The latest variants of Storm are now using a 40-byte key to encrypt their Overnet/eDonkey peer-to-peer traffic, meaning that each node will only be able to communicate with nodes that use the same key. This effectively allows the Storm author to segment the Storm botnet into smaller networks. This could be a precursor to selling Storm to other spammers, as an end-to-end spam botnet system, complete with fast-flux DNS and hosting capabilities."
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Storm Worm Botnet Partitions May Be Up For Sale

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  • by Shimdaddy (898354) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @12:04PM (#20996965) Homepage
    Being the n00b that I am, I don't know what fast flux DNS is. I know what DNS is, and I know the meaning of fast... but flux to me is something you put on a pipe before you weld it. What does it mean in this context?
    • by Ant P. (974313) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @12:08PM (#20997041) Homepage
      It means the spammers register a bunch of domain names to spam in their emails, and rotate the zombie PC IP they're pointing to every few minutes. Makes it harder to shut down.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by bobs666 (146801)
    • by QuantumRiff (120817) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @12:13PM (#20997125)
      Basically, you set your records to expire in a very, very short time, and constantly change the DNS servers, as well as the records. This makes it very hard to shut down the DNS, since its always moving and changing. I guess a good way to picture it is if at google, every single one of their 1M servers was changing. IE, every 5 seconds, a different machine was the dns server for "Google.com" and the www address changed to a different computer. Then, try to figure out which machine was misbehaving, and displaying the wrong data. It would be difficult.
      • ...and if there aren't, then why are reputable DNS servers allowing these super-fast changes to DNS records anyway? Certainly such trends can be easily detected and stopped dead in its tracks?
        • Sure there are legitimate reasons to do this - one of them is cheap datacenter fail-over. If I have web servers colocated in two different datacenters with two different ISPs, and one of them goes down, I can change the TTL on my DNS records to, say 30 seconds, and point all the addresses to the other location. The short short TTL will cause global DNS to be updated much more quickly than normal, and my web site's traffic won't dead-end.

          On the other hand, I defintiely see ISPs that don't respect DNS TTLs
          • Ok, but I think the original poster's argument is, the DNS servers that normal consumers connect to (ie. supplied by DHCP when connecting to your ISP) shouldn't normally be receiving lost of responses with very short TTLs.

            Is this another one of those things an ISP *could* do to help control this scourge? Could they reject all DNS responses with a TTL below some threshold, even if its 29 seconds, and not break legitimate access? Or keep those responses in the cache and flag/reject follow-on responses if
          • by whoever57 (658626) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @02:36PM (#20999571) Journal

            and one of them goes down, I can change the TTL on my DNS records to, say 30 seconds
            Changing the TTL when you need to change the records, won't make any difference. Those nameservers that already have cached the IP addresses of your machines will have cached the old TTL also. Those nameservers that need to look up the IP address will pick up the new IP address irrespective of the TTL.

            It really only makes a difference if your domain's TTL is short before you need to make the change.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by guruevi (827432)
            Actually you'll have to change the TTL prior to failing over. So if you use it for active fail-over and not for scheduled maintenance, the other nameservers will be using your 'old' TTL. A common mistake by cheap webhosters.

            The other issue is that TTL is a suggested time for keeping your records alive. The other (caching) nameserver can choose to ignore it (to circumvent stuff like this botnet or just to keep it's own load down) or if it can't reach your nameservers after that TTL you specified it will just
        • by BiOFH (267622)
          Some 'legitimate' fast-flux DNS uses:
          * Some (IMHO misguided) sysadmins think "oh, I'll put in a super short TTL and I can swap out servers/services/whatever at a moment's notice".
          Quite frankly, most never end up needing to do this super-fast swapping or round-robin switching and it's just one of those 'good ideas' that have very little practical value for the majority of those using it. And it's often trivial to do using other less-burdensome methods especially for mail servers -- MX has built in fail-over.
  • Three words (Score:3, Insightful)

    by archeopterix (594938) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @12:05PM (#20996981) Journal
    Follow the money.
    • How long before.. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by monk.e.boy (1077985) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @12:09PM (#20997057) Homepage

      How long before Storm is better than the Internet?

      It seems to be peer-2-peer, can host files, must be reliable (DNS and all that), encrypted traffic.

      If you assume Internet is past its sell by date, what would the next generation network look like?

      :-)

      (OK, maybe it wouldn't be owned by the mafia (insert USA joke here))

    • Follow the money.

      Microsoft?

  • by analog_line (465182) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @12:07PM (#20997015)
    I'm not sure whether to be impressed, depressed, or both.

    These things are getting so insidious and vast in scope, I'm honestly wondering if I can safely believe that any Windows machine I come across with problems ISN'T on Storm or one of the other botnets. At what point does having a multi-use computing device become more of a problem than the benefits it provides? If 90% of what you get for connecting to the Internet is problems, what's the point? Bile spewing bloggers, bought-and-paid news reports and total advertising awareness?
    • by cromar (1103585)
      I'm extremely impressed. Security has been lax for far too long, and I can't really blame anyone for taking advantage of that.

      Plus, botnets are pretty sweet. I wouldn't mind having one myself, for, you know, distributed compiles or something ;) Or maybe a beowulf cluster of botnets...
      • Security has been lax for far too long, and I can't really blame anyone for taking advantage of that.

        You may not be able to blame anyone. But I can certainly assign blame.

        Is the person/group that designed this botnet talented? Without a doubt. Do they deserve respect? Hell, no.

        If you respect this person, then you would have to also respect the people who put together those televangelist networks and faith-healers. Liars, cheats, and thieves. They deserve no respect.
        • Respect is probably something they should have. You respect the man with a gun to our head unless you're blessed with an immunity to bullets, or you don't care about living any longer.

          Admiration, that they shouldn't have.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            Actually, they have my admiration. Storm is an amazing piece of work, and for some reason I like the idea that it took criminals to implement something so genius.

            Hot bitches sucking their cocks on demand is what they don't deserve.

          • That's the same attitude my ex had, that when someone has power over you you automatically have to respect them. I think that's a bad use of the word "respect". Respect isn't something that can be forced. It has to be earned. Someone can have enough power over you for you to be willing to obey them, but that doesn't mean you respect them. Respect entails holding someone in high esteem. I certainly wouldn't hold someone with a gun to my head in high esteem, even though I may obey his commands. I could see th
          • by tsm_sf (545316)
            You respect the gun, not the man. Unless you're into being dominated or a Republican (or, usually, both).
    • by Cato (8296) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @12:44PM (#20997673)
      Here's a small and possibly unrepresentative datapoint from last weekend that would tend to suggest there are a lot of infected PCs out there, some of them with Storm. Basically, 2 of 3 PCs scanned had backdoor trojans and I didn't have time to debug the third PC enough to scan it.

      I spyware scanned three PCs belonging to two friends/family households. Naturally, they were all Windows. I used Webroot Spysweeper which is pretty good but costs, and Kaspersky online scan, which is good but slow, and virus only.

      - PC 1: infected with various spyware and a backdoor trojan (remote access by the bad guys) - had an up to date antivirus (AVG) that didn't spot any of this, but no anti-spyware installed.

      - PC 2 (same network as 1): couldn't even install new software (error on running any new .EXE), ran out of time to debug this so did not install Webroot or any other tools. Also had AVG antivirus, which was up to date, and no anti-spyware. Presumed infected.

      - PC 3: (2nd household) - infected with a different backdoor trojan and several viruses. Had Norton anti-virus that had not updated since 2004.

      I would assume the average Windows PC has a high chance of some sort of infection, unless the users are very careful about installing third party software, some of which carries spyware or worse, and clicking on links in IE. Even Firefox had spyware on one of these machines.

      Windows PCs run by power users (not the users here) can be somewhat secure, but it's painful to make them so. One colleague who's very techie still got infected by a PDF security hole recently, so you need Secunia PSI to run continuously, as well as monitoring some security blogs, and updating software regularly, as well as using a good anti-spyware tool, not using IE/Outlook, etc etc. However, once you are making this much effort, the work needed to install Ubuntu becomes much less of a hurdle - you might as well just switch over one PC so you have a safe PC for online shopping/banking etc.

      The only good thing about this story is that nothing very important was being done on these PCs - little online shopping and no online banking... however, that's the users' self-reported status and they may well not want to admit they are at risk.

      I don't do this for a living, I'm just a Windows and Linux user who wondered why there were so many popups on one of these PCs and ended up getting sucked into this when I should have been socialising - fortunately anti-spyware scans can run during dinner...
      • by steveo777 (183629)
        I do a lot of spyware/trojan removal in my spare time. Mostly for family, friends, or acquaintances with an extra $50. Every computer I've seen with an up to date Norton, McAffee, or any other 'major name' anti-virus is just chalk-full of trojans and spyware. Way over the FDA recommended amounts. I usually run Spybot once to clear out the easy stuff, and then go registry hunting with HiJackThis and a few other tools.

        It is my non-expert (I am not certified to say this) opinion that there is no antivirus

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by dave562 (969951)
          It is my non-expert (I am not certified to say this) opinion that there is no antivirus program or suite that does... anything.

          FWIW & YMMV, I setup my family and acquaintances with XP-SP2, IE7, Windows Defender and the latest version of SAV Corporate/Enterprise in Unmanaged mode. I just turn on Automatic Updates in Windows and setup the AV software to update every night. My biggest "problem user" is a girl whose laptop was completely owned by spyware when I first met her. After a pave and rebuild wi

      • by Xeriar (456730)
        AV Comparatives does not give AVG very good marks, and my experience has reinforced this. NOD32 [eset.com] and AntiVir [free-av.com] are the best out there by their results. AntiVir is free for personal use and they both perform on par with Norton without bringing systems to a crawl.

        Oddly, I haven't seen many truly serious rootkits. Most of them have been on pre-SP2 XP machines, which are (thankfully) becoming rarer.
    • by rah1420 (234198)

      I'm honestly wondering if I can safely believe that any Windows machine I come across with problems ISN'T on Storm or one of the other botnets.
      The POS Gateway that I'm trying to disinfect is a classic example of one that I'm sure isn't on a botnet.

      Because, and only because, I refuse to hook it to a network while I'm trying to de-worm it. ;)
    • the point (Score:3, Funny)

      If 90% of what you get for connecting to the Internet is problems, what's the point? Bile spewing bloggers, bought-and-paid news reports and total advertising awareness?
      pr0n?
  • by onion2k (203094) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @12:09PM (#20997051) Homepage
    This slashvertising has reached a new low. ;)
  • Clever (Score:5, Funny)

    by Billosaur (927319) * <wgrother@optRABB ... minus herbivore> on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @12:12PM (#20997111) Journal

    The malware attacks behind this botnet have been relentless all year, using a wide range of clever social engineering lures to trick Windows users into downloading executable files with rootkit components.

    Windows has downloaded a new security update. Do you wish to install?

  • by ralf1 (718128) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @12:14PM (#20997157)
    Can I buy a partition of zombie PC's and use their processing power to crack the 40 bit key?
    • by smussman (1160103) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @12:21PM (#20997271)

      Can I buy a partition of zombie PC's and use their processing power to crack the 40 bit key?
      Unfortunately, it's a 40-byte key. You might look into getting several partitions.
  • by What the Frag (951841) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @12:20PM (#20997237) Journal
    ... can the partitions be formated with ext2/3 or do have we stick to NTFS?
  • I remember when we proposed an anonymous P2P system for the anti-spam system "Okopipi" (successor of Blue Frog). We were criticized by saying spammers would use that system to make P2P networks for DNS attacks.

    One year later, spammers are ALREADY using a P2P system for such thing, while nobody has the means to counter them.

    The lesson: They got ahead of us. It's time we invest in countermeasures of our own, or succumb to the enemy. Because, we're losing.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nuzak (959558)
      So if we don't have exactly the same weapons that spammers have, we lose? Oh horseshit. It doesn't take clever technical tricks, it takes ISPs stopping direct port 25 access from their residential ranges. But they won't, because they're criminally negligent. They're also afraid that the zombies will send through the smarthost, that their smarthost will get blacklisted, and that they'll actually have to start paying attention to the security on their own networks. God forbid.

      If the dynamic residential r
      • I agree with you. That would be the perfect solution. Unfortunately, with our current governments, implementing those "terrible" measures won't give them any money. So all that we have is to fight on our own. And legally - Blue frog's purpose wasn't DOS attacks, but filling the spammers' forms so their business model wouldn't work anymore.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by norton_I (64015)
        The zombies *will* go through the smarthost, and we will be pretty much back where we started, whether or not the smarthosts get blacklisted.

        Blocking port 25 is a reasonable idea, and many ISPs do it, but to say to do otherwise is criminally negligent or that doing so would stop worms from spreading is completely absurd.

        Pretty much the only effective tool ISPs have is to completely shut down the connection to any infected computer. But people will (rightly) get upset about that.
        • Why rightly? Most of these things are trojans that the idiot user had to somewhow install themselves. Real worms aren't likely to nail users, if they are using windows update, and are behind a hardware firewall. If you are infected, you should be taken off the network until the problem is resolved. End of story.
      • I don't think it's at all reasonable to say that everyone should be stuck with ISP email only just to help clean up spam. For me personally the value of being able to contact a POP or IMAP server of my choosing does outweigh negatives of spam.

        Where's that checklist...

        • by nuzak (959558)
          > For me personally the value of being able to contact a POP or IMAP server of my choosing does outweigh negatives of spam.

          What does POP and IMAP have to do with SMTP? You've got your MUAs and your MTAs confused. If you want to contact arbitrary SMTP servers around the world, then use port 587 or tunnel it. The rest of the SMTP servers of the world who don't know you would just as soon rather not talk to you if you're some anonymous dynamic IP. And the people that wrote that checklist think the same
    • by nettdata (88196)
      Except that "they" ARE "us"... they just choose to use their powers for evil.
  • by Zymergy (803632) * on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @12:34PM (#20997503)
    http://www.schneier.com/crypto-gram-0710.html#1 [schneier.com]
    A good essay on the Storm Worm and how it works and how it can be prevented (or rather why it CAN'T be prevented in many cases).
  • One thing we can do? Everyone can just stop accepting mail from servers with short TTL and the fast-flux DNS model is no good to spammers.
    Yes, it's inconvenient to some ("wah! but I run sendmail off my laptop on dial-up!" - Yeah, well, go back in time to 1993 and have yourself a ball...). Frankly, they can just get the hell over it and use one of a dozen other methods to send out mail or increase their TTL. Spam is way more inconvenient and it affects everyone.

    This doesn't address other uses for these botne
  • So, how bad is it? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @12:41PM (#20997629)
    I've not been actively following the Storm Worm Botnet stories, but I've picked up a few details which, on the surface, are downright frightening: Storm infects between 1 and 50 million PCs; it's more powerful than the world's supercomputers; dynamically evolves to avoid counteractions by security companies; and only uses 20% of its potential computing power at the moment.

    These blurbs, if they're true, paint a bleak picture. Should the hackers leverage the network's full power, couldn't they shut down just about any server on earth? And imagine the bandwidth costs of this thing operating at full force.

    So for those in the know, is Storm just a way to propagate spam and annoy people? Or is it something even more dangerous?
    • by asuffield (111848)

      So for those in the know, is Storm just a way to propagate spam and annoy people? Or is it something even more dangerous?

      So far as anybody knows, it does nothing just yet, except for a very small part that is used to spread Storm. The prevailing theory is that it is for sale to the highest (criminal) bidder. It looks like somebody is getting serious about providing hijacked hosts for sale (this is not a new activity, but it's never happened on this scale before). One or more of the organised crime syndicate

    • by joe 155 (937621)
      "So for those in the know, is Storm just a way to propagate spam and annoy people? Or is it something even more dangerous?"

      I'm not "in the know" per se, but my analysis of the situation - especially given the developments mentioned above - is that Storm probably is both. If all you want to do is to make money then it really doesn't matter if you're selling your power for spam or for attacking governments. Money is money. So if a black hat decides that instead of just sending the usual spam out he'd real
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kindbud (90044)
      Storm infects between 1 and 50 million PCs;

      What is the difference between that statement and "I have no idea how many, so I'll toss out scary numbers."

      (hint: the second statement is honest)
  • Rename (Score:4, Funny)

    by surajbarkale (877769) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @12:44PM (#20997667)
    It's about time we start calling it Skynet
  • What amazed me about this article is how unsure it is of everything. "Appears that" and "may be" keep coming up. If things are that unsure, how can the potential customers of this segmented spamnet know that there is a service for sale? Wouldn't any marketing that these bot-admins do also be picked up by the white hat guys? I'm confused.
    • by asuffield (111848)
      In two words: organised crime. It's the sort of thing they excel at. You won't see your friendly neighbourhood drug dealer advertising in any newspapers - but he's there.
    • by cez (539085) *
      When's the last time you hung out at a hooka bar in Moscow?


      Obviously, criminal activities aren't marketed in the open...seen any adverts for Drugs recently (yes the good fun kind, not the prescriptions they shove down your throat)...not saying I know for sure, but I think people can still get them.

  • Since Storm is probably run by a single person, or a single group, how have they managed to avoid getting caught? Especially if they start make money on it, it should be possible to track them that way.
    • by gurps_npc (621217)
      One of the reasons they have not been caught is BECAUSE it is a single person or small group.

      Small = harder to find unless you area a '133t' programer bragginb about how good youare.

      You want to keep a secret you tell NO ONE, you don't go spreading it around.

      The real way to kill storm is to basically start having interpol treat it like drug trafficking, getting real cooperation, fairly quickly, instead of just ignoring it as not important.

      You have cops not investigate one crime then guess what happens -

      • by Zak3056 (69287)

        One of the reasons they have not been caught is BECAUSE it is a single person or small group.
        [snip]
        The real way to kill storm is to basically start having interpol treat it like drug trafficking, getting real cooperation, fairly quickly, instead of just ignoring it as not important.

        These two statements pretty much contradict each other. Who are you going to get to cooperate if it's a single individual, or small, well insulated group?

  • Step 1: Rent botnet.
    Step 2: Have each 'rented' computer run update, anti-virus, anti-malware...
    Step 3: Profit! Ok, no profit, but maybe you get to enjoy reduced amounts of spam.

    Repeat until bored.
    • by Z00L00K (682162)
      And at the same time provide the spammers with more money so that they can continue.

      I'm starting to think that spammers should get familiar with the business end of a Desert Eagle .50 or similar device.

    • by Zak3056 (69287)

      Step 1: Rent botnet.
      Step 2: Have each 'rented' computer run update, anti-virus, anti-malware...
      Step 3: Profit! Ok, no profit, but maybe you get to enjoy reduced amounts of spam.

      Step 4: Never be seen again after you get shot in the head, dismembered, and buried in the desert by the organized crime connections of the botnet owners.

      • Better yet, replace Step 2 with:

        Step 2: Have each 'rented' computer download, and make available for download, various movies and music.
        And Step 3 with:

        Step 3: Profit! as the ??AA begins systematically attacking the botnet.
        And Step 4 with:

        Step 4: Laugh with glee as dismembered pieces of ??AA executives and lawyers begin washing up on river banks.
  • by erroneus (253617) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @01:19PM (#20998261) Homepage
    People are hijacking PCs and servers all over the globe and selling access to them to spammers and other shady characters. This is an organized crime of GLOBAL scale. Why the hell isn't Interpol or some large law enforcement body prepared to follow the money to the sources and burn them with it?

    And if we don't have the REAL people to work on this, perhaps we should hire Hollywood to get the job done because it seems like the only real law enforcement that happens these days is in the movies or on TV.
    • by pla (258480)
      This is an organized crime of GLOBAL scale. Why the hell isn't Interpol or some large law enforcement body prepared to follow the money to the sources and burn them with it?

      You assume too much in not considering that Interpol or the NSA or Mossad may very well run this thing.

      Not claiming that they do, but finding out they do wouldn't surprise me in the least.
      • by blhack (921171) *

        You assume too much in not considering that Interpol or the NSA or Mossad may very well run this thing.
        What motivation would the NSA, which is an orginization with almost limitless funds, have in creating a botnet of the scale of storm? If they did, why would they sell it off?
  • First things first, IANAE (I am not a expert)

    I've recently read some stories about this botnet. From what I've gathered it's powerfull enough to do some serious damage in a society. Cyber attacks can disrupt our lives in multiple ways after all.
    Imo we're just lucky so far that it hasnt been used for some serious attack on money/bank agencies, public transport, etc etc, stuff close to us and vital for average day life. (or am I just being to paranoid now?)

    The hosts that are infected will most likely
    • by u38cg (607297)
      One of the first things a competent virus does nowadays is to sweep the host it has just infected for other malware and to remove any that is hostile to the authors aims. As usual, the bad guys are ahead of you ;) I have read anecdotal stories of people doing this back in the days when virii were novelties rather than dangers.

      However, at the end of the day a counter-worm would still be a worm and, and running unauthorised software on someone else's box is still unethical, never mind illegal, no matter w

    • by jonbryce (703250)
      Most likely Storm closes whatever hole it used to get into the machine, so no other worm can come in afterwards.

      It isn't unknown for rival worm authors to attack each other's worms.
    • by ratboy666 (104074)
      Not just ethics -- its just not practical.

      STORM (mostly) just installs and hides. It doesn't DO anything that a user would notice. The only thing it does (which, generally, is not noticed) is mutate itself twice an hour.

      Only a small fraction of STORM infected systems try to spread STORM. An even smaller fraction act as a distributed control net.

      Since the control net is distributed, it is very difficult to trace. Since STORM is ...quiet... it isn't noticed (and that's why estimates on how many systems are in
  • Where's their online store and to which paypal address do I send the funds?
  • by xactuary (746078)
    The partition you just purchased is on your own hard drive.
  • by Experiment 626 (698257) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @02:51PM (#20999849)

    The updates are part of the Slashdot tenth anniversary auction. In addition to the @slashdot.org address and low user id, CmdrTaco has also gotten the operators of the Storm Worm Botnet to auction its use off as part of the charity action.

    Some potential uses for the winning bidder:

    • No longer will you have to only imagine having a Beowulf cluster of those.
    • Create your own Slashdot effect at the push of a button.
    • Thousands of Slashdot sock puppet accounts at your beck and call, ready to mod you up, karma-assassinate your foes, or post supportive replies to all the drivel you post.
    • Bring the parallel power of distributed computing to bear on problems like cracking DRM, modelling global warming, or ray tracing pictures of Natalie Portman with hot grits.
    • DDOS the RIAA / SCO / Diebold / whoever and become an instant Slashdot hero.
    • In Soviet Russia, spammers inboxes get flooded by YOU!
  • by Dachannien (617929) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @04:48PM (#21001553)
    There's only one way that there'll be enough public outcry to cause solutions to be generated. The spammers will have to overplay their hands hugely. (Think Al Qaeda in Iraq - things are turning around over there at the grassroots level, mainly because AQI was chopping off people's heads and serving roasted children on platters to parents, and the public outcry has been enormous.)

    Everyone hates spam, but spam filtering techniques have progressed to the point where we're at an uneasy stalemate with spammers. Everyone hates DDoS attacks, but in truth, how many people have really been the victim of one, and how many companies with muscle are really vulnerable to a normal-sized one? What will have to happen is that some overambitious crook gets it in their head to attack a Google or a Level3 or an Amazon or a national military, and puts the muscle behind it to make it work. It'll take players of that sort of weight to induce ISPs to do what they should have been doing all this time - proactively detecting botnet traffic and suspending the account of any user, individual or corporation, participating in such botnets.

    I suppose we could also black hole enough of the world that the botnet controllers are forced into the reach of countries with tough computer anticrime resources, where they can be put behind bars and well out of the reach of any keyboard. I'm just not quite sure the Russians will stand for that....
  • by Qbertino (265505) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @05:17PM (#21002045)
    I'm sorry, I'm probably sounding completely lame to those more firm in cryptography, but I have to ask:

    What would it take to attack the 40 byte key? Imagine a coordinated effort by the biggest 500 gouverment computing setups around the world. All the blue genes and whatnot pitching in. The Japanese sure have the one or other state-of-the-art mainframe supercomputer, and CERN, ESA, Nasa and few German weather services have a few aswell. There is tons of horsepower laying around idle at agencies, bureaus and the occasional school or corporation. If they all pitch in in a coordinated brute force attack *and* have Seti@Home do a few hours too it should be possible, no? Especially if one takes into account that at least the NSA has mathmatical functions that do some of the dirty work and speed up the process a little. They wouldn't even have to publish them.

    Wait, let's just check:

    255 to the power of 40 is rougly 1.8 times 10 to the power of 96 (Gulp!). Thats nearly Gogol. (10^100, what Google initially was supposed to be called, the guy registering the domain mixed up the letters...)
    Whatever.
    On it goes: For the sake of ease I'll roughly estimate that after the overhead has been dealt with, half of the top 500 (or a simular setup) will be doing optimized attacks on an average of 50 billion tries per second. An average state-of-the-art mid-range server has aprox. 20 GigaFLOPS, so I think that's fairly realistic for a large mainframe doing a multi-step operation.
    250 * 50 000 000 000 = 1.25*10^13 tries per second.

    *60*60*24 makes 1.08*10^18 per day. [Sidenote: This may be way off wack allready and total bollocks but it's fun actually]

    *7*52*5 makes 1.96*10^21. Oh, gee. This doesn't look to good. Where at it for 5 years and have only covered less than the fourth root of our total amount of keys. Even if we had 10 times the power it would make up only 1 percent of the keypace. Sheesh. We'll probably be cheaper off in handing out Linux PCs to everyone on the planet.

    It's no use. I gotta start working on my next project: Finding an explicit function for prime numbers. Hehehe. I could use the Million from the Fields Medal too. :-)

    Bottom line: My question/assumption was lame. But at least I found out myself. :-)

Machines certainly can solve problems, store information, correlate, and play games -- but not with pleasure. -- Leo Rosten

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