Rustock botnet ditches encryption to ramp spam

Rustock botnet ditches encryption to ramp spam
Rustock botnet ditches encryption to ramp spam

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By John E Dunn
24 August 2010

The Rustock mega-botnet appears to have ditched the experimental use of 
TLS (transport layer security) to obscure its activity, Symantec has 

Rustock=E2=80=99s use of TLS is now averages between 0.1 and 0.2 percent of all 
spam, peaking at 0.5 percent, a tiny fraction of the levels seen in 
March when it reached averages of around 25 percent with a peak of as 
much as 77 percent.

The key moment was on 20 April, when the volume of spam featuring the 
tactic suddenly plunged to sub-one percent levels after an equally 
sudden rise in rates in the weeks prior to that date.

TLS adds a small but cumulative overhead to server email processing, 
which ties up mail servers but also affects the rate at which spam is 
sent. Why Rustock=E2=80=99s controllers adopted the technique at all was never 
clear but might have been connected to a misplaced belief that it would 
make it harder for servers to filters its activity or detect the command 
and control system used to direct its activity.


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