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Password Gropers Hit Peak Stupid, Take the Spamtrap Bait 100

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the bad-strategy dept.
badger.foo (447981) writes Peter Hansteen reports that a new distributed and slow-moving password guessing effort is underway, much like the earlier reports, but this time with a twist: The users they are trying to access do not exist. Instead, they're taken from the bsdly.net spamtrap address list, where all listed email addresses are guaranteed to be invalid in their listed domains. There is a tiny chance that this is an elaborate prank or joke, but it's more likely that via excessive automation, the password gropers have finally hit Peak Stupid.
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Password Gropers Hit Peak Stupid, Take the Spamtrap Bait

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  • I expect his file was probably indexed by a search engine (he does talk about it fairly often in his blog) and the botnet found it there. The botnet isn't smart enough to know that the email addresses aren't real - it only knows they are valid - so it went ahead and went for it. Hell if you were looking to compromise email addresses for your own nefarious purposes and had a small army of compromised PCs to attempt the password hacking, you wouldn't care if you were attempting to access valid addresses or not.
  • by Nimey (114278) on Wednesday August 13, 2014 @10:18AM (#47662641) Homepage Journal

    so now they've all hit peak stupid.

    I'm not sure it's the script kiddies that have hit that or the submitter and editor.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      so now they've all hit peak stupid.

      I'm not sure it's the script kiddies that have hit that or the submitter and editor.

      "Peak Stupid" will be the dupe story...

    • by Noah Haders (3621429) on Wednesday August 13, 2014 @11:55AM (#47663487)
      unfortunately, it's unlikely to be "peak stupid." This would imply that stupidity has hit a maximum and things are only going to get less and less stupid as we move forward. Never undervalue humanity's capability to get more and more stupid as time goes on.

      although to be fair, you could call the nuclear arms race "peak stupid" because humanity was flirting with destroying all human existence. n00b spammers have no chance of being this stupid, and hopefully we will never be so stupid again.
      • by Immerman (2627577)

        Indeed - stupidity is the one "resource" our species is unlikely to ever run out of - even the brightest amongst us have more than enough stupid to screw up regularly.

        And I think even the nuclear arms race probably wasn't peak stupid - we almost certainly couldn't sterilize the planet, and within a few centuries the radioactive fallout would have decayed to background levels again - probably only decades in some of the more out-of-the way corners of the globe.

        Meanwhile things like nanotech and biotech have

        • One could argue that Peak Stupidity might correlate with Peak Population
        • by lgw (121541)

          Meanwhile things like nanotech and biotech have the potential to completely escape our control. You don't even need a grey-goo scenario - release enough buckyballs into the environment and virtually all cellular life on the planet will grind to a stop - you can't clean the stuff up, and it essentially never breaks down.

          What hubris. The only thing nano-scale that humans can make that will be more threatening than the worst plagues humanity has already survived are biological weapons based on the worst plagues humanity has already survived.

          Not to mention doing things like operating particle accelerators on Earth that we think could well produce quantum black holes. Sure we're pretty sure they'd evaporate harmlessly, but if we were *certain* of the physics we wouldn't be wasting time building ever-larger particle accelerators

          The only thing special about LHC energy levels is that they can occur inside some neat detectors and measurement equipment, When the LHC comes online with its new, higher beam energies, the goal is 6.5 TeV per beam. Not bad for monkeys playing with fire. The OMG Particle [wikipedia.org] was about 300

          • Heh heh. The only problem of course being that they're not actually monitoring the LHC for all possible black holes that could potentially be created, and we have no idea how long it would take for a terminal event to build to noticeable levels. There could at this very moment be a microscopic black hole orbitting within the Earth, absorbing new matter just barely faster than it evaporates, biding it's time as it grows toward critical mass.

            And no, there's two more important things special about the LHD as

            • by lgw (121541)

              Heh heh. The only problem of course being that they're not actually monitoring the LHC for all possible black holes that could potentially be created, and we have no idea how long it would take for a terminal event to build to noticeable levels. There could at this very moment be a microscopic black hole orbitting within the Earth, absorbing new matter just barely faster than it evaporates, biding it's time as it grows toward critical mass.

              Ahh, you miss my point. LHC-level events happen in the atmosphere quite routinely and have for 4 billion years. Anything bad that happens, takes at least that long to destroy the world, and will happen today whether the LHC is on or off.

              Anything spawned in the upper atmosphere is going to spend the first few seconds of it's existence falling through low-pressure air. Opportunities to "feed" off normal matter would be few and far between.

              High energy cosmic rays are moving at very nearly the speed of light. From their point of view, the Earth's atmosphere is a nanometer or so think.

              Would you care to speculate on how often a huge, super-tight cluster of cosmic rays manages to reach the Earth's surface all at once in order to mimic a single large-scale LHC test?

              Sure, the cosmic ray particle flux is well known [wikipedia.org]. Events at the scale of a LHC collision happen about once per square kilomet

              • by Immerman (2627577)

                And you, it seems, miss my point as well: I'm perfectly aware of how often *single events* of LHC energies or higher hit the Earth, and am not terribly concerned with them - in a few billion years if a single-event catastrophe were at all likely it probably would have occurred.

                But consider multi-event interactions that might permit a dangerous particles to clump together into something that could expand fast enough to become catastrophic. Have you actually looked at the LHC flux? The LHC's design luminos

                • by lgw (121541)

                  You'd need to propose a mechanism by which flux maters, as I don't see it at all. The count of LHC-collision-level events happens naturally. The total energy in a second of colliding LHC beam happens naturally. Sure, cosmic ray collisions usually start high up, but the atmosphere appears quite dens at that speed, and momentum is conserved, so if some micro black hole formed, it would also see the atmosphere as quite dense, and then pass through the Earth very shortly thereafter.

                  As far as how we know: ther

                  • by Immerman (2627577)

                    No, I'm arguing for conservative risk-taking in the face of a species-terminating potential risk. You need to propose a mechanism under which you're CERTAIN that flux doesn't matter. One quantum black hole or strange particle may well evaporate faster than it can feed, but create a swarm of dozens or thousands of them simultaneously and some of them may manage to combine into something dangerous.

                    Certainly, we know that their are old planets and neutron stars. That's not the question. The question is "are

                    • Ever thought about what counts as a species-terminating potential risk? If I get sick, it's possible that whatever is getting me sick is going to mutate into something incredibly nasty, so I should burn myself and my house with gasoline every time I get sick? (Well, I guess, only once.)

                      To be taken seriously, propose a mechanism how this might happen.

                      I'm not familiar with strange particles or why a flux of them might be dangerous, so let's talk about black holes.

                      How do you know elementary particles

                    • by lgw (121541)

                      Ahh, I get it now. You're frightened. Well, I prefer that humanity continues to do science, with the inevitable minor risks that entails. If the overwhelming agreement of experts in the field it that "it's safe", I'm going to go with that, and be content with the risk that they're all wrong, because the alternative is worse.

        • The quantum black hole thing was never a real threat. First, because if they were the earth would have been destroyed long ago: cosmic rays regularly strike with far greater energies than the LHC produces. Since they would therefore also produce even bigger quantum black holes, if it were an issue it would have long ago destroyed the earth.

          The second thing is that black holes don't suck material in any more than their constituent mass would. They also have charge if made from charged particles, so the proto
          • by Immerman (2627577)

            Certainly cosmic ray events occur on a regular basis - however, how often do you suppose a tight cluster of thousands or millions of cosmic rays all simultaneously strike a same square millimeter of the Earth's surface in order to mimic a LHC event? A single QBH or strangelet may be harmless - make a few, or a few million, in close proximity in the same instant and the same isn't necessarily true.

            As for your charged black hole - what makes you think it would stay charged? It's going to be falling right th

  • by Kierthos (225954) on Wednesday August 13, 2014 @10:20AM (#47662657) Homepage

    There's no such thing as 'Peak Stupid'. Every time someone gets to the top of the current peak, the fog clears and another mountain of stupid looms in front of them.

    • by alex67500 (1609333) on Wednesday August 13, 2014 @10:32AM (#47662787)

      A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.
      Douglas Adams

      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        Directly evidenced by the population's insistence on voting for the most stupid of politicians in the hope that they can't screw things up further, or in the mistaken belief that they can make things better.

      • "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." - Albert Einstein.
        • by ZorglubZ (3530445)

          "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the latter." - Albert Einstein.

          FTFY.

          • "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the latter." - Albert Einstein.

            FTFY.

            Einstein was right, apparently.

    • by Thanshin (1188877) on Wednesday August 13, 2014 @10:33AM (#47662793)

      There's no such thing as 'Peak Stupid'. Every time someone gets to the top of the current peak, the fog clears and another mountain of stupid looms in front of them.

      A phenomenon well documented in the study "the unpeakability of stupid".

    • That is not funny, it is so sad it is insightful :)

    • by quenda (644621)

      No, we know "peak stupid" has been reached when the password gropers are getting more intelligent, reversing the previous trend of increasing stupidity.

      Either that, or the submitter is too stupid to know the difference between a record high, and a peak.

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      True. Last time we hit Peak Stupid we were still doing pipelining stupid stuff. With modern technology we have super-scalar concurrent stupidity.

    • There's no such thing as 'Peak Stupid'. Every time someone gets to the top of the current peak, the fog clears and another mountain of stupid looms in front of them.

      Yeah, but that doesn't mean the have to climb it.

    • by jamiesan (715069)
      Yeah, this is just penultimate stupid until the next penultimate stupid.
  • Peak Stupid (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wasteoid (1897370) on Wednesday August 13, 2014 @10:24AM (#47662709)
    So is trying so hard to coin a phrase like "peak stupid".
  • Well (Score:5, Funny)

    by Spad (470073) <slashdot AT spad DOT co DOT uk> on Wednesday August 13, 2014 @10:28AM (#47662753) Homepage

    While reading this story I accidentally peak stupid.

  • by Chrisq (894406) on Wednesday August 13, 2014 @10:36AM (#47662813)
    The script kiddies are wasting time and resources looking for non existent email addresses. Wouldn't it be better to let them get on with it rather than tell them exactly where a whole list of email addresses that they needn't check can be downloaded?
    • by BitZtream (692029)

      No.

      By them mailing these addresses, they make it clear they are spammers. That is what these leasts are designed to do, if you mail them, you're not only a spammer, you're too stupid to even have done any due diligence into your spam lists/page scraping.

      These lists are public for this EXACT purpose, so morons who scrape pages get hold of them and email them, which then gives the spam stoppers a whole bunch of information about currently active spam. No need to wait for users to submit it, weight it, get e

      • by synaptik (125) *
        You should re-read the comment you are replying to. You have misunderstood Chrisq's point (which is, in summary: by talking about the spammer's stupidity in this case, we risk alerting said spammers to their stupidity, in which case they might correct it. It is better for us to just STFU about it.) And of course, by replying to you I am now part of that problem. Damn!
        • Correct, but spammers rarely (if ever) harvest mail addresses by hand. It's an automated effort. It would of course be more sensible to not put a huge list of mail addresses out (since, well, it's rather unlikely that they're a list of good addresses, something's highly bogus when all it is is a list and nothing else, hence spammers might get wise in the future and avoid them), but having a few pages that normal surfers won't reach with a bit of an explanation that this is a mail address you should probably

      • I know, most here skim a title or summary and think they know it all, but really you should occasionally read TFA. The issue is not with people sending spam to a spam trap, they are harvesting email addresses and trying to authenticate to them. This is an attempt to compromise accounts, not an attempt to send SPAM mail.

        Let me give you a bit of detail, I work with these issues daily.

        Long ago in an Internet far far away Spammers learned that they could skim content to find email addresses. Using DNS resol

    • by Kaz Kylheku (1484)
      Ah, but then we can supply the following counter-measure: put some good addresses into the list too!
      The crackers and spammers won't know which are which.
      If they use the list to perpetrate, then their IP address is immediately tagged as being malicious.
      If they use the list to cull their own list of nonexistent addresses, then they inadvertently cull your good address also. So you win again.
    • They're trying to crack the passwords for the emails in our spam prevention system. Presumably they can then start editing it to contain legitimate mail from legitimate addresses, which would cause a royal pain to people working on spam prevention.

      • And on a related note, this could also give them insight into the sort of passwords used by the anti-spam community.

        • You mean the "Keepass, generate a bunch of 20 character passwords, letters and numbers" kind? Yeah, they're damn predictable...

  • by ZorinLynx (31751) on Wednesday August 13, 2014 @10:46AM (#47662897) Homepage

    Populate the net with files like this full of E-mail addresses that are not valid. Have dummy accounts on the appropriate servers that will accept the logins, allow the spambots to think they're successfully sending E-mails when in fact they're all going into the bit bucket.

    For added effect, make the servers respond v e r y s l o w l y under these accounts, taking tens of seconds to "send" the E-mail, a minute or so to log in, etc. Basically, slow the spam bots down and waste their time. Of course, the bots will probably eventually evolve to detect such shenanigans, but why make spammers' jobs easy? :)

    • ...For added effect, make the servers respond v e r y s l o w l y under these accounts, taking tens of seconds to "send" the E-mail, a minute or so to log in, etc. Basically, slow the spam bots down and waste their time....

      OpenBSD's spamd has done this for years.

      Now I see the bots moving on to the next target when the SMTP conversation takes too long.

    • by oneiros27 (46144) on Wednesday August 13, 2014 @12:15PM (#47663653) Homepage

      There's even a term for this, teergrube [wikipedia.org].

      An ISP that I worked for in the 1990s used to do this (dcr.net, owned by Drew Curtis, of fark.com fame).

      We had some code that would look for blatant e-mail harvesters, and would SLOWLY return random bogus e-mail addresses ... wait a couple seconds, spit out an address ... etc. The page at the top even had warnings that the page was completely bogus.

      At first, all of the e-mail addresses were all in our domain (but not our real mail server), but I went and added some code that would look up the connecting IP's network (I think I used whois.ra.net), and would also include '{abuse,postmaster}@(network)' and again for the network's upstream providers.

      I can't remember if the bogus mail server was also the box that we had set up so that if *anything* tried touching it, it'd blackhole the connecting IP at our external router, if it was a teergrube itself.

    • Hmm... my server can do all that and more (umm... ok, less) out of the box!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I don't fully understand this term "Peak Stupid", but it seems to me the meaning is that it can't get any more stupid. If so, then this activity would be far from the peak, because stupid people will always surprise you by being even more stupid. (Or most stupider, as some of them phrase it)

    That would mean to hit "Peak stupid", then the results would be fatal .. Like searching for gas leaks by candle light

    • I don't fully understand this term "Peak Stupid"...

      It's the name of the mountain under which the most secure mail server complex exists. After decades of trying to get past the defenses, the password gropers have finally hit Peak Stupid.

  • By simple brute-forcing spammer are generating a lot of traffic. Almost 70% of all e-mail traffic is spam, how long before 70% of all login attempts are done by bots? "Is someone DDOSing our website? Nope, just bots trying to get in."
    • by BitZtream (692029)

      The two are inclusive, not mutually exclusive.

    • by Culture20 (968837)
      It's already close to 99.99%. Set up ssh on port 22 and don't block it. Check your security log. Valid logins versus failed attempts to access root, admin, or other common usernames. Even with fail2ban or denyhosts and ignoring slow distributed attacks like in the article, the number of failed attempts can sometimes dwarf valid logins. I remember the "Web 2.0" just prior to captchas. It was tough finding content that wasn't written by a spambot.
  • going down the drain. They probably have a bigger chance of profit and fame were they do check Mersenne numbers with all that CPU power.
  • "... the password gropers have finally Peak Stupid."

    I think you accidentally a verb.

  • I've been seeing weird log file activity for the web server that runs some of my sites.

    .
    A lot of requests for odd URLs, all of which return 404. All of the requests that I checked originated at an IP address in Russia, and dozens of different IP addresses were used. These odd requests started about 5 or 6 months ago and have been ramping up lately. Makes me wonder just what they originators are looking for?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      WordPress admin login pages and PhpMyAdmin installations with poor passwords, mostly.

  • Stupid is not a finite quantity in the universe, and it's not a zero sum game.

    You can have an infinite amount of stupid.

    Now, one might argue that telling the spammers how they've fallen for this and what to avoid ... well, that might be stupid.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    When I was young we groped our girlfriends. Now get off my lawn.
  • ... did they pay for that email list?

    That's the only thing that could possibly trump the current stupid position.

  • I think by Peak Stupid you are trying to say this is the height of stupidity, I think you are underestimating the stupid that is out there The truly stupid is yet to come... just wait
  • 1. Does "password guessing" mean they are just trying to login using common passwords like "password" or is it more sophisticated than that?
    2. Assuming these brute force methods were used against real accounts, they would presumably become locked. It seems this would have been tried many times already in the past and present and lots of accounts would be getting locked all the time. Thus the email sites must have some way to detect and prevent this?
    Just curious about these details... thx.

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