Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Yes, we can! Make a difference, that is

Good netizenship sometimes comes with a green tinge.

Taking in my daily Linuxtoday dose this morning, there was one item grabbed that my attention, with the headline "Botnets and You: Save the World--Install Linux", and the Linuxtoday entry in turn points to Ross Brunson's blog post with the same title. Do click the link to Ross' blog, it's well worth reading.

What I particularly like about the piece is that he makes the point that you can actually make a difference. More specifically, if you run Linux (being a Novellian, he naturally recommends SLES or SLED) and eliminate Microsoft from your system, you are not only gaining for yourself a safer and more reliable platform, you are also helping everybody else by making the probability of your machine ever joining a botnet a lot smaller.

As regular readers here will recognize, I rate being a good netizen (aka net citizen) as extremely important. Let others get on with their business while we tend to our own tasks, not interfering unless we really have to. If you opt to run your day to day business on the same software your machine most likely came with, the likelihood that somebody else will be taking control of your machine and using it for less than desirable purposes is in fact anything but negligible. I could have used stronger words ("reckless endangerment" comes to mind), but then Redmondians would have just shut off all remnants of rationality. I have argued earlier (article in Norwegian only, sorry) that a computer owner's responsibility should be roughly on par with a dog owner's, but it's possible I should return to that in a future column. And besides, any Linux I've touched for the last ten years is easier to install and operate than the Microsoft offering.

If you followed the Linuxtoday link earlier, you know that I could not resist making the suggestion there that it is in fact possible to be an even better netizen. As outlined in an earlier column (and its followups), if you do your greytrapping properly, you can keep the bad guys occupied and have fun at the same time, consuming next to no resources locally. How's that for green computing.

For example, the crew who started sending messages with headers like

From: "Mrs Maria Jose" <>
Subject: Immediate Response Required.(Euro Award)

to various spamtrap addresses on May 15th are still patiently trying to deliver. A very superficial log analysis shows that there were originally four hosts sending those messages from the network. There appears to be only one left now, but collectively these machines have so far made 476,787 attempts at delivery to my data collection points. Judging from a sample of some 21,000 connections from one of the hosts, the average connection time was 389.68 seconds, which in turn means that we've had those spam senders waste approximately 185792441 seconds, or time equal to 5.89 years.

Not bad in a little more than a month. On the downside, the predictions that spambots would sooner or later learn to do things in parallel have been proved true. My logs indicate that the current crop is able to handle at least sixty simultaneous delivery attempts. Even bogged down by a suboptimal operating system at the sending end, modern desktop computers are in fact powerful beasts. In my book it's just good netizenry to set up a machine to keep the garbage they send off your own network, and by extension off others since they don't get around to try delivering to others. By the way, that list is now almost 15,000 addresses long, all non-deliverable garbage. You could be excused for thinking it a twisted art project.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the mention, added you to the links section, nice site you've got!



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