Competition May Be Driving Surge in Botnets, Spam
Written by Daniel   
Wednesday, 09 January 2008 11:10
Market challenge from Nugache botnet may be pushing Storm's operators to expand, researcher says

JANUARY 8, 2008 | 5:45 PM

By Tim Wilson
Site Editor, Dark Reading

A price war may be at least partially responsible for the recent increase in spam and botnet activity on the Internet, a researcher suggested this week.

The operators of Nugache, one of the Web's most sophisticated emerging botnets, appear to be expanding their network and slashing prices to customers who want to use it to distribute spam, according to researcher Paul Henry, vice president of technology evangelism at Secure Computing Corp. (Nasdaq: SCUR - message board).

"We have seen offers that will allow a customer to send a million emails for under $100," Henry says. "If you send more than 10 million, the price drops to under $80 per million. There's a price war going on, and Nugache is becoming the bargain basement."

The new low prices may be partly driving the recent increase in foreign-language spam that many users have been finding in their filters and emailboxes over the past few weeks, Henry suggests. Recent reports indicate that spam comprises more than 95 percent of all email. (See Spam Reaching Record Volumes, Researchers Say.)

"One of the major differences between Storm and Nugache is that Storm appears to do a much better job of matching the language of the message with the recipient," he says. "If you look at the foreign language spam you're getting, the characteristics are not the same as the spam that comes from Storm. A lot of this is coming from Nugache."

However, it is possible that Storm's recent resurgence is partly fueled by its operators' desire to compete with Nugache, Henry suggests. Storm may be expanding its footprint -- and its operators may have cut their usage prices -- in order to meet the new competition, he says. (See Storm Darkens Christmas, Takes Aim at New Year's.)... More   Comment in the Forums

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