We all know what spam is right, emails from people trying to sell us everything from “enhancement drugs” to the latest German pOrn. Am I the only one who gets German pOrn Spam?
Spam broadly saying is any unwanted or unsolicited email. But it can be just benign advertising for some product no one needs (but apparently some want) or it can be dangerous, either some type of phishing attack or it may just be an attack itself where if you even open the email in your standard email viewer you get infected by a virus or malware. So don’t use the quick viewer in your email reader but I suggest that you use the text only viewer or the 3 line text viewer as viewing it as text is less likely to trigger the malware. And remember if it seems too good too be true it probably is.
So where does this spam come from? Well some of it, the legitimate spam, if there is such a thing, comes from companies that have lots of computers and generate a lot of email spam for the companies that buy their services. Some companies send their own spam as well. But the majority of spam, the phishing and malware spam, comes mostly from what are known as Bot-Nets. Bot-nets are collections of computers that have become bots, they are owned by ordinary people and companies/governments but have become infected with malware that allows the malware writers to control them and use them for their criminal purposes.
They get infected by the use of malware and worms as I have explained in previous posts and because they are not patched for the exploits that infected them and probably don’t have proper antivirus and anti malware protection. The malware guys can send them commands and install new programs and scripts for each different thing they want them to do. And what do they use them for? Well sending spam is a big one. Other uses seem to be spreading the software to make them bots to other computers and they are used for attacking businesses, organisations and government networks by making DDOS attacks.
A denial of service attack is trying to stop a computer or network from operating by just making so much traffic to that system that normal users can not get through, the line is always busy and so the service is denied. A distributed attack means that attack is made by many computers at once flooding a netowrk or set of networked computers with the traffic from hundreds or thousands (and even up to millions) of computers and the way criminals have figure out to do this cheaply is by hijacking other peoples computers into bot-nets and using those computers.
SO there you go, the meanings of Spam, bots and DDOS and how they are connected. If you are not sure your computer is not in a bot net there are tools to use on the web, for instance TrendMicro has a free tool to use available on its security pages.