Microsoft word - paper 104.doc

Spammer detection using honeypots and digital forensics spamming techniques and how to trace spammers. More Abstract— At present it is very difficult to trace the
specifically, these two sections contrast each other in the identity of spammers who use identity concealment
sense that the third section looks at how spammers use bot- techniques. It is difficult to determine the identity of the
networks to conceal their identities, whereas the fourth spammer by just analysing the electronic trail.
section looks at techniques for tracing the identity of spammers using bot-networks. The paper then proposes the This paper proposes the design and implementation of
design of a spammer detection system to detect bot- a spammer detection system that uses honeypot
networks in section V followed by the conclusion. techniques to detect abnormal behaviour on a network
so as to identify potential spammers.
Unsolicited bulk email otherwise known as spam is an email sent to a large number of email addresses, where the nsolicited bulk communication also known as spam is owners of those addresses have not asked for or consented the practise of sending unwanted email messages, to receive the mail [4]. Spam is used to advertise a service frequently with commercial content, in large quantities to or a product. An example of spam is an unsolicited email an indiscriminate set of recipients [1]. message from an unknown or forged address advertising The sending of unsolicited bulk communications with the intention to advertise products and generate sales is Spam is one of the most significant threats to the economically viable because senders have no operating Internet, accounting for around 60% of all email traffic [4]. costs beyond the management of their mailing lists. Spam costs consumers and ISPs vast amount of money in Because the cost of setting up a spamming operation is low spammers are numerous. Thus the volume of unsolicited Spammers generally do not pay much for the sending of bulk communications has increased dramatically over the spam. They accomplish this by exploiting open mail servers to do their task for them. The spammer need only send one The costs of spam which involve lost productivity and email message to an incorrectly configured mail server to fraud, these costs are borne by the general public, reach a vast number of email addresses. Recipients in turn institutions that store and retrieve email for their employees need to pay access costs or telephone costs in order to and by Internet service providers (ISP’s). Institutions and ISP’s have been forced to add extra capacity to cope with ISPs have to bear the bulk of the cost for bandwidth the high volumes of unsolicited bulk communications [3]. overuse by spammers. This cost is often passed onto the Anti spamming legislation has been introduced in many consumer through increased Internet access fees or a jurisdictions. The problem faced by law enforcement is that spammers move their operations to jurisdictions that have The following section describes how spammers use bot- no or weak anti spamming laws. At present it is very nets to send spam and how they conceal their identities difficult to trace the identity of spammers who use identity from persons who would attempt to identify the source of concealment techniques. It is difficult to determine the identity of the spammer by just analysing the electronic trail using standard email tracing techniques. This paper line III. HOW SPAMMERS CONCEAL THEIR IDENTITIES USING BOT- proposes the design and implementation of a spammer detection system that uses artificial intelligence techniques A Bot-Network consists of a set of machines that have to detect abnormal behaviour on a network. been taken over by a spammer using Bot software sent over The remainder of the paper is structured as follows. The the internet. This Bot software hides itself on its host background section defines spam in more detail and also machine and periodically checks for instructions from its human Bot-Network administrator. Bot-nets today are often The next two sections are devoted to the state of the art of controlled using Internet Relay [5]. The owner of the computer usually has no idea that his machine has been Manuscript received June 7, 2009. Ickin Vural is with the compromised until its internet connection is shut down by Information and Security Architectures Research Group, Department of Computer science, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, an ISP. As most ISP’s block bulk mail if they suspect it is South Africa (e-mail: [email protected]). spam the spammers who control these Bot-Networks Prof Hein Venter is the leader of the Information and Security typically send low volumes of mail at any one time so as not Architectures Research Group, Department of Computer science, to arouse suspicions. Thus the spam mail can be traced to University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa (e-mail: an innocent individuals network address and not the While the number of Bot-nets appears to be increasing, race between spammers and digital forensic investigators the number of bots in each Bot-net is actually dropping. In will continue for the foreseeable future. the past Bot-nets with over 80 000 machines were common [5]. Currently Bot-nets with a few hundred to a few This paper proposes the design and implementation of a thousands infected machines are common. One reason for system to detect spammers by analysing network traffic for this is that smaller Bot-nets are more difficult to detect. abnormal behaviour. The implementation would have to take into account spam email sending patterns to effectively IDENTIFYING THE IDENTITY OF SPAMMERS BY USING identify spammers. The implementation could make use of artificial intelligence to learn behaviour and thus detect A honeypot is a closely monitored computing resource that is intended to be compromised [6]. A honeypot computer The proposal would be to model a network as a graph can be applied to Bot-networks, open proxies and open proxies. Thus by setting up a computer to imitate a Bot- and then train an artificial intelligence agent to learn network, investigators can attempt to trap the spammers expected and unexpected behaviour so as to detect a machine that could possibly have been taken over by a bot- One way of identifying spammers is to set up a computer to pretend that it is part of a Bot-network [7]. By allowing the honeypot computer to become part of the Bot-network we can obtain the Bot-network software used by the This paper outlines the challenges facing digital forensic spammer. Once this has been done the honeypot waits for investigators when attempting to identify spammers. The the spammer to send new instructions and then identifies paper promotes the idea of Spammer identification as the network address of the sender. The problem with this opposed to Spam identification system to halt spam. approach is that spammers send the instructions over open relays and open proxies thus it may be impossible to discover the identity of the spammer’s network address in The Authors would like to thank the ICSA research An open proxy is a machine that allows computers to connect through it to other computers on the internet. Open proxies exist because they enable unhindered internet usage [1] Spamhaus. 2009 The Definition of spam. Available: in countries that restrict access to certain sites for political [April 2009]. or social reasons. An internet user in a country that restricts [2] Email Metrics Program. 2007. ‘The Network operators internet access can access blocked sites by using an open perspective’ , messaging Anti-Abuse working group. proxy in a country that does not restrict internet access. Spammers use open proxies to hide their network addresses. The recipient of a spammers email will not see the spammers’ network address on the email but the open [3] Europa. 2009 Data protection: "Junk" e-mail costs proxy’s network address. It is estimated that sixty percent internet users 10 billion a year worldwide.Available: of all spam is sent using an open proxy [7]. Thus the h’ttp:// spammer will use an open proxy to send instructions to the ce=IP/01/154&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN machines on their bot-network to avoid detection. Available: [April
A. Is Spammer identification possible? This paper outlines the challenges facing digital forensic [5] Evan Cooke, Farnam Jahanian, Danny McPherson. 2005 . The advanced computing systems association. investigators when attempting to identify spammers using [Online] The Zombie Roundup Understanding, bot-networks in conjunction with open proxies. The use of bot-networks means that even if the source of the machine sending the spam is identified the person owning the machine may not be the one responsible for sending spam. [6] Niels Provos. 2004. The advanced computing systems The use of untraceable internet connections and open association. [Online]. A Virtual Honeypot Framework.
proxies to communicate instructions to bot-networks makes the use of Honeypots unlikely to succeed. Thus any success in tracing spammers will be matched by spammers using increasingly sophisticated techniques to [7] Boneh, Dan. 2004. The Difficulties of Tracing Spam evade detection. Greater responsibility will have to shift to Email. Department of Computer Science Stanford ISP’s in monitoring connections to open proxies as well as attempting to shut down open relays. Nevertheless an arms


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