Microsoft Hunts For Zombie Spammers - InformationWeek

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10/27/2005
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Microsoft Hunts For Zombie Spammers

Microsoft is investigating 13 spam operations as part of a call to action against zombies, which are compromised computers used without their owners' permission to send spam, launch denial-of-service (DoS) attacks, and spread worms and viruses.

Microsoft is investigating 13 spam operations it believes sent millions of junk mail messages through a single PC that the Redmond, Wash.-based developer purposefully set up as a "zombie," the company said Thursday.

Microsoft's action, which was done in conjunction with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Consumer Action, a San Francisco-based advocacy group, was part of a call to arms against zombies, compromised computers that are used without their owners' permission to send spam, launch denial-of-service (DoS) attacks, and spread worms and viruses.

"The widespread use of zombie computers to commit crimes over the Internet presents a very real danger to law-abiding computer users," said Tim Cranton, the director of Microsoft's Internet Safety division.

Earlier this year, Cranton said, Microsoft set up a "clean" PC, then infected it with malicious code commonly used by attackers to turn a computer into a zombie. Researchers then monitored the PC's use of the Internet for 20 days, and tallied the number of messages sent through it.

"In those 20 days, this one computer received 5 million connection requests from spammers, and sent 18 million spam messages," said Cranton.

That amount of data was impossible to analyze, so Microsoft focused on the three most-active spamming days, when 470,00 connection requests were made of the PC, and about 1.8 million messages were sent through it.

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