In less than three weeks, this single zombie received 5 million connection requests from spammers and 18 million spam messages advertising more than 13,000 individual Web sites.
Unlike the zombies of B-movie imagination, which are easily identifiable by their typically gruesome appearance and menacing groans, zombie computers are silent stalkers. People who use the Internet may never know that their computers have been compromised and turned into a conduit for sending millions of pieces of illegal spam or facilitating other illegal activity. More than half of all spam is sent through infected computers, according to industry reports.
To combat the zombie threat, Microsoft today revealed some of the technological and legal maneuvers it has used to unmask the individuals using several zombies to send spam. Microsoft investigators intentionally created a zombie computer, quarantined it to prevent it from actually sending spam messages, then carefully watched it for 20 days while investigators tracked and traced all Internet communications through the infected computer.
The statistics the investigators compiled were staggering. In less than three weeks, this single zombie received 5 million connection requests from spammers and 18 million spam messages advertising more than 13,000 individual Web sites. Evidence gathered in this exercise contributed to a lawsuit that has now identified 13 different spamming operations.