Charlie's Diary

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Tue, 09 Sep 2003


45Mb of virus delivered to me in 26 hours. That's just under 2Mb/hour. Another way of looking at the situation is that it's consuming up to 15% of the monthly bandwidth allowance on this colocated server. Another order of magnitude increase (and Sobig.F is already an order of magnitude worse than any other worm I've ever seen) and it'll start costing me real money.

Today's daydream of punishment for the virus writer responsible: to be sentenced to clean out the cats' litter tray (with his hands tied behind his back). Preferably once per individual virus received (that's what ... 450 times for the past day's work? The cats will die of old age first!).

On a more practical note, Paul Graham has a modest proposal for fighting spam. It won't work against viruses -- but against ordinary spam it should be a killer. Simply put, spammers send spam indiscriminately in order to generate hits on a website (through which they aim to sell goods or services). They expect a response rate of typically under 0.1%, and they send millions of junk messages (at the expense of the unwilling recipients). If they received a response rate of 10-100%, it would literally swamp their servers, subjecting them to high bandwidth usage charges and turning the tables on the "free lunch" paradigm that makes their business marginally profitable.

It should be easy enough to turn the tables on the spammers. Imagine, if you will, a software filter through which all positively-identified spam is sent by SpamAssassin. The filter extracts all URLs from the mail and then spiders them a couple of times. If a hundred thousand people with this tool are hit by a spam, it'll generate many hundreds of thousands to millions of hits on the spammer's website within a matter of minutes, hammering them into the ground.

There are problems with this approach to spam fighting. Firstly, legitimate emails containing URLs are broadcast to lots of mailing lists every day -- there needs to be some mechanism for positively identifying the mail as spam before spidering ensues. Secondly, if such a mechanism is badly designed it could open the way to distributed denial of service attacks. (Much as Osirusoft or ORBS or other spam blacklisting sites can take down an entire domains' ability to send and receive email, a malevolent attacker with spamware could broadcast spam with a URL pointing to their intended victim's server, and ensure that their victim was trashed by the spam response system.) I'm not convinced by the idea -- but anything would be better than the current mess.

[ Link ] [ Discuss spam ]

posted at: 14:56 | path: /virus | permanent link to this entry


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Some webby stuff I'm reading:

Engadget ]
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Making Light (TNH) ]
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Cyborg Democracy ]
Body and Soul (Jeanne d'Arc)  ]
Atrios ]
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This Modern World (Tom Tomorrow) ]
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Mick Farren ]
Early days of a Better Nation (Ken MacLeod) ]
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Tangent Online ]
Grouse Today ]
Hacktivismo ]
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Whatever (John Scalzi) ]
Justine Larbalestier ]
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The Law west of Ealing Broadway ]
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S1ngularity ]
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Gwyneth Jones ]
Calpundit ]
Lenin's Tomb ]
Progressive Gold ]
Kathryn Cramer ]
Halfway down the Danube ]
Fistful of Euros ]
Orcinus ]
Shrillblog ]
Steve Gilliard ]
Frankenstein Journal (Chris Lawson) ]
The Panda's Thumb ]
Martin Wisse ]
Kuro5hin ]
Advogato ]
Talking Points Memo ]
The Register ]
Cryptome ]
Juan Cole: Informed comment ]
Global Guerillas (John Robb) ]
Shadow of the Hegemon (Demosthenes) ]
Simon Bisson's Journal ]
Max Sawicky's weblog ]
Guy Kewney's mobile campaign ]
Hitherby Dragons ]
Counterspin Central ]
MetaFilter ]
NTKnow ]
Encyclopaedia Astronautica ]
Fafblog ]
BBC News (Scotland) ]
Pravda ]
Meerkat open wire service ]
Warren Ellis ]
Brad DeLong ]
Hullabaloo (Digby) ]
Jeff Vail ]
The Whiskey Bar (Billmon) ]
Groupthink Central (Yuval Rubinstein) ]
Unmedia (Aziz Poonawalla) ]
Rebecca's Pocket (Rebecca Blood) ]

Older stuff:

June 2006
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December 2005
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(I screwed the pooch in respect of the blosxom entry datestamps on March 28th, 2002, so everything before then shows up as being from the same time)

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