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Third-largest Botnet Taken Down Thanks to Security Researchers

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With as much as we all hate and deal with spam, it is refreshing to hear about a victory. For those who don’t know, a botnet (short for “robot network”) is a network of PC’s, both home and business, that have been remotely taken over by hackers, and essentially become remote-controlled networks. One of the many ways that botnets are used is to launch virtual attacks such as DDOS attacks, and to send spam.

Grum is the third-largest botnet in the world, sending out about 18 billion spam emails per day. Grum was brought to its virtual knees this week when security researchers put enough pressure on Internet service providers (ISPs) to take Grum’s servers in the Netherlands, Russia, Ukraine and Panama offline. This shutdown created a massive decrease in the number of Grum IP addresses sending spam, from 120,000 IP addresses, to a little over 21,500.

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Previously, these countries were considered safe spots by bot herders because the ISPs in those countries did little to stop them. Sort of like the spammers version of the offshore bank account in Switzerland. This move by the now cooperating ISPs, some feel, is a message to spammers that their previous safe spots are not going to be quite as safe anymore and, for the mean time, you should be seeing a decrease of pharmaceutical spam (the spam for which Grum was best known) in your inboxes. And of course, the less that the ISPs have to deal with processing spam, the less that good email has to risk getting thrown out with the bathwater.

We hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

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This article originally written on July 20, 2012, and is as relevant now as when it was first written.