Death of the Internet, Film at 11

John Weekes jw at
Mon Oct 24 05:56:02 UTC 2016

On 10/23/2016 4:19 PM, Ronald F. Guilmette wrote:
>> ... I've recorded
>> about 2.4 million IP addresses involved in the last two months (a number
>> that is higher than the number of actual devices, since most seem to
>> have dynamic IP addresses). The ISPs behind those IP addresses have
>> received notifications via email...
> Just curious... How well is that working out?

For the IoT botnets, most of the emails are ignored or rejected, because 
most go to providers who either quietly bitbucket them or flat-out 
reject all abuse emails. Most emails sent to mainland China, for 
instance, are in that category (Hong Kong ISPs are somewhat better).

For other botnets, such as those using compromised webservers running 
outdated phpMyAdmin installs at random hosts, harnessing spun-up 
services at reputable VPS providers (Amazon, Microsoft, Rackspace, 
etc.), or harnessing devices at large and small US and Canadian ISPs, we 
have had better luck. Usually, we don't hear a response back, but those 
emails are often forwarded to the end-user, who takes action (and may 
ask us for help, which is how we know they are being forwarded). The 
fixes can enough to reduce attack volumes to more manageable levels.

Kudos go out to the large and small ISPs and NSPs who have started 
policing SSDP and other reflection traffic, which we also send out some 
notifications for. In some cases, it may be that our emails spurred them 
to notice how much damage those attacks were doing and how much it was 
costing them to carry the attack traffic.

> I've tried this myself a few times in the past, when I've found things
> that appear to be seriously compromised, and for my extensive trouble
> I've mostly received back utter silence and no action.  I remember that
> after properly notifying [email protected] some large end-luser cable network
> in the SouthEast (which shall remain nameless) I got back something
> along the lines of "Thank you.  We'll look into it." and was disgusted
> to find, two months later, that the boxes in question were still utterly
> pwned and in the exact same state they were two months prior, when I
> had first reported them.

We do get our share of that, as well, unfortunately, along with our 
share of people who send angry responses calling the notifications spam 
(I disagree with them that sending a legitimate abuse notification to a 
publicly-posted, designated abuse account should be considered spam) or 
who flame us for acting like "internet police". But, we persist. Some 
people change their minds after receiving multiple notifications or 
after we explain that DoS traffic costs them money and hurts their 
customers, who will be experiencing degraded service and may silently 
switch providers over it.

> I guess that's just an example of what somebody else already noted here,
> i.e. that providers don't care to spend the time and/or effort and/or
> money necessary to actually -do- anything about compromised boxes, and
> anyway, they don't want to lose a paying customer.
> So, you know, let's just say for the sake of argument that right now,
> today, I know about a botnet consiting of a quarter million popped
> boxes, and that I have in-hand all of the relevant IPs, and that I
> have no trouble finding contact email addresses for all of the relevant
> ASNs.  So then what?

I use scripts to send out an abuse notification to some percentage of 
the compromised hosts -- the ones sending some significant amount of the 
traffic. The notification includes a description of what we saw and 
timestamped example attack traffic, as interpreted by tcpdump. If 
further traffic is seen later from the same host, another notification 
will be sent, after a cool-off period.

The emails are plain text and we don't try to use them as advertisement. 
We also don't force a link to be clicked to see more details or to 
respond back. I don't like to receive such emails myself and have found 
that those types are more likely to be ignored.

> The question is:  Why should I waste my time informing all, or even any
> of these ASNs about the popped boxes on their networks when (a) I am
> not their customer... as many of them have been only too happy to
> gleefully inform me in the past... and when (b) the vast majority
> simply won't do anything with the information?

I'm not saying that everyone should send abuse notifications like we do, 
since it can be a big task. But, in response to someone wondering if 
their network is being used for attacks, or asking how they could help 
to police their own network, I am saying that making sure that inbound 
abuse notifications are arriving at the right place and being handled 
appropriately is important.

> And while we are on the subject, I just have to bring up one of my
> biggest pet peeves.  Why is it that every time some public-spirited
> altrusitc well-meaning citizen such as myself reports any kind of a
> problem to any kind of a company on the Internet, the report itself
> gets immediately labeled and categorized as a "complaint".  If I spend
> some of -my- valuable time to helpfully try to let somebody else know
> of a problem on their network, or with their web site, and if that
> report gets categorized as a "complaint" then what does that make me?
> A "complainer"??
> I don't need this kind of abuse and denegration from people who I'm
> trying to help.  Like most other people, if I am in need of some
> personal denegration and abuse... well... I have relatives for that.

There's a spectrum of people responding to these and some percentage are 
just jerks, as in real life. But, I like to think that the majority of 
at least NA providers are represented by professionals who just don't 
respond out of courtesy because they don't want to flood our inboxes 
with simple acknowledgements.

Those of us experiencing these attacks appreciate the community support, 
both from people like you who also send notifications and those who 
handle the notifications on the receiving end.


More information about the NANOG mailing list