It sounds like something that should be on one of the science-themed cable channels. “Tonight at 8PM, Storm Chasers takes you into the eye of the tornado. At 8:30, Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit brings down another crime ring on Botnet Hunters!” I’d watch that.
Within the company, Microsoft is hard at work making sure Windows is more secure against these digital threats. Even so, it’s hard to help people once rootkits have added their machine to these giant botnets, generally believed to be the source of most automated spam e-mails. Just last month, Redmond teamed up with security company Kaspersky to bring down the Kelihos botnet, which had over forty thousand computers around the world tied into its control.
The real story, however, was the takedown of the Cutwail and Rustock botnets, the latter of which happened just this past month. Rustock, with almost a million and a half infected computers sending out messages, was capable, all on its own, of pumping out more than thirty billion spam messages every single day. Once some of these more powerful botnets were removed, the overall number of messages Microsoft found its various antispam platforms having to block dropped by a substantial margin.
Microsoft’s Security Intelligence Report details all of this and more, and offers a fascinating look at some of the statistics involved in clearing out the Internet’s wilder frontiers. One of the most interesting parts was the spam analysis, which broke down all of the messages into discrete categories based on a number of themes. A handy chart summarized the results:
All those Viagra and Cialis ads you get? Only 3.8% of the whole enchilada. Other drugs took up a whopping 28% of the pie, and represented the biggest category by far. All other non-pharmacy products were only 17.2%, followed by 419 scams (Nigerian Princes need their money!) at 13.2%, financial miscellaney at 8.9% and gambling at 6.1%. Need date in
Microsoft has a whole site set up to talk about the results, alongside the report itself, which is a multi-megabyte PDF file. You can check it all out here.