Spam and dating service
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According to Tech Crunch, Cyber Erotica is said to have launched the first online affiliate marketing firm in 1994.
Here’s the output of one controller that’s currently getting pinged by more than 12,000 systems configured to relay porn spam (the relevant part is the first bit on the second line below — “current activebots=”).
Using passive DNS tools from Farsight Security — which keeps a historic record of which domain names map to which IP addresses — I was able to find that the spammer who set up the domain info-88[dot]top had associated the domain with hundreds of third-level subdomains (e.g.
minithanth.info-88[dot]top, achoretsq.info-88[dot]top, etc.). It was also clear that this spammer controlled a great many top-level domain names, and that he had countless third-level subdomains assigned to every domain name.
This type of spamming is known as “snowshoe” spamming.
Like a snowshoe spreads the load of a traveler across a wide area of snow, snowshoe spamming is a technique used by spammers to spread spam output across many IPs and domains, in order to dilute reputation metrics and evade filters,” writes anti-spam group Spamhaus in its useful spam glossary.
In late October 2016, an anonymous source shared with Krebs On a list of nearly 100 URLs that — when loaded into a Firefox browser — each displayed what appeared to be a crude but otherwise effective text-based panel designed to report in real time how many “bots” were reporting in for duty.
Here’s a set of archived screenshots of those counters illustrating how these various botnet controllers keep a running tab of how many “activebots” — hacked servers set up to relay spam — are sitting idly by and waiting for instructions.For several months I’ve been poking at a decent-sized spam botnet that appears to be used mainly for promoting adult dating sites.Having hit a wall in my research, I decided it might be good to publish what I’ve unearthed so far to see if this dovetails with any other research out there.The dotted address to the right in brackets on each line is the numeric Internet address of the actual machine that sent the message.The information to the left of the open parentheses is called the “HELO/EHLO string,” and an email server administrator can set this information to display whatever he wants: It could be set to bush[dot]whitehouse[dot]gov.These days, the total number of servers reporting in to this spam network fluctuates between 50,000 and 100,000.