Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .




CYBER WARS
Internet Censorship Revealed Through the Haze of Malware Pollution
by Staff Writers
San Diego CA (SPX) Mar 09, 2012


Alberto Dainotti (left) and K.C. Claffy, CAIDA. Photo: Ben Tolo.

On a January evening in 2011, Egypt - with a population of 80 million, including 23 million Internet users - vanished from cyberspace after its government ordered an Internet blackout amidst anti-government protests that led to the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. The following month, the Libyan government, also under siege, imposed an Internet "curfew" before completely cutting off access for almost four days.

To help explain exactly how these governments disrupted the Internet, a team of scientists led by the Cooperative Association for Internet Data Analysis (CAIDA) at the University of California, San Diego conducted an analysis based largely on the drop in a specific subset of observable Internet traffic that is a residual product of malware.

Many types of malicious software or network activity generate unsolicited traffic in attempting to compromise or infect vulnerable machines. This traffic "pollution" is commonly referred to as Internet background radiation (IBR) and is ubiquitously observable on most publicly accessible Internet links.

The analysis marks the first time that this malware-generated traffic pollution was used to analyze Internet censorship and/or network outages, and the researchers believe this novel methodology could be adopted on a wider scale to create an automated early warning system to help detect such Internet reachability problems in the future.

"We actually used something that's generally regarded as bad - traffic pollution due to malware - for a beneficial purpose, specifically to improve our understanding of geopolitical censorship behavior," said K.C. Claffy, CAIDA's founder and principal investigator for the research, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Added Emile Aben, part of the research team and a system architect with the Reseaux IP Europeens Network Coordination Centre (RIPE NCC), an independent organization based in The Netherlands that supports the infrastructure of the Internet through technical coordination: "We believe that research such as this has security relevance and implications for every nation in the world."

Specifically, the research team - including scientists in Italy and The Netherlands - used UC San Diego's Network Telescope, which consists of a globally routed segment of Internet address space that carries almost no legitimate Internet traffic.

Also known as a 'darknet' because this subset of addresses does not have any devices assigned to them, the UC San Diego network telescope collects what could be considered "garbage" of the Internet, such as traffic due to mistyped IP (Internet protocol) addresses, malicious scanning of address space by hackers looking for vulnerable targets, backscatter from random source DoS (denial of service) attacks, and the automated spread of malicious software, including botnet and worm activity. The team also used other multiple sources of large-scale data available to the academic community, such as global routing signaling information.

"Using a combination of this data allowed us to narrow down which forms of Internet access disruption were implemented in a given region over time, but the malware-induced traffic helped us uncover things that the other data did not reveal," said Alberto Dainotti, who recently joined CAIDA from the University of Napoli Federico II in Naples, Italy, and served as lead author of the study, called Analysis of Country-wide Internet Outages Caused by Censorship.

"Among other insights, we detected what we believe were the Gaddafi government's attempts to test a firewall to conduct higher precision host-based blocking while they were executing the coarser approach of router-based disconnection."

"On a larger scale, we were able to analyze how regimes go about bringing down an entire country's Internet infrastructure," said Aben.

From the Geopolitical to the Geophysical

CAIDA has also been exploring the impact of geophysically disruptive events, such as major earthquakes or other natural disasters, on Internet connectivity. Another recent study was described in a study called Extracting Benefit From Harm: Using Malware Pollution to Analyze Political and Geophysical Events, published in the January 2012 issue of the ACM SIGCOMM Computer Communication Review.

In this study, Dainotti, Claffy, and Aben, along with Roman Amman from the Auckland University of Technology, in Auckland, New Zealand, showed how IBR traffic revealed aspects of not only the Egypt and Libya political uprisings, but also during the powerful earthquakes that struck Christchurch, New Zealand, in February 2011, and Tohoku, Japan one month later - the most powerful earthquake to ever hit that nation.

Dainotti acknowledges that this research is still preliminary, and the team has not explored any automated early warning functionality for natural disasters. But the earthquake study above explored metrics for effectively and efficiently gauging the impact of disasters on Internet infrastructure, based on the analysis of IBR activity from the affected region or regions.

The metric they experimented with to analyze the earthquakes captured a level-shift in the number of IP addresses reaching the observation point. It clearly showed that the Tohoku earthquake had much higher impact on network infrastructure than the Christchurch earthquake (partly because there is much higher population density and thus Internet infrastructure density in Japan). The researchers also were able to compare the geographic extent, or radius, of the damage, and approximate restoration times based on when IBR traffic was again observable by the UC San Diego network telescope.

"Although we have only scratched the surface, we are convinced that IBR traffic is an important building block for comprehensive monitoring, analysis, and possibly even detection of events unrelated to the IBR itself," said Claffy, noting that CAIDA plans further study in this area. "We hope our methodology will be used to detect outages or similar macroscopically disruptive events in other geographic or topological regions."

Additional researchers in the Analysis of Country-wide Internet Outages Caused by Censorship paper included Marco Chiesa and Claudio Squarcella (Roma Tre University, Rome, Italy); and Michele Russo and Antonio Pescape (University of Napoli Federico II, Naples, Italy.)

.


Related Links
San Diego Supercomputer Center
Cyberwar - Internet Security News - Systems and Policy Issues






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





CYBER WARS
China cyber warfare skills a risk to US military: report
Washington (AFP) March 8, 2012
China's cyber warfare capabilities have reached a point where they would pose a danger to the US military in the event of a conflict, according to a report prepared for the US Congress released on Thursday. The report by defense contractor Northrop Grumman for the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission said China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) has placed great emphasis on what is ... read more


CYBER WARS
Apollo 11: 'A Stark Beauty All Its Own'

Magnetic moon

Twin GRAIL Spacecraft Begin Collecting Lunar Science Data

Apollo 12: Pinpoint Landing on the Ocean of Storms

CYBER WARS
NASA Mars Orbiter Catches Twister in Action

Working models for the gravitational field of Phobos

Community College Scholars Selected to Design Rovers

Slight Cleaning of Opportunity Mars Rover Solar Panels

CYBER WARS
Tile Makers Creating Orion Shield

Weird and wonderful gadgets wow world's top IT fair

O, Pioneers! (part 2): The Derelicts of Space

Workers Remove Apollo-era Engines from Crawler at VAB

CYBER WARS
Three for Tiangong

China hopes to send Long March-5 rocket into space in 2014

Upgraded carrier rocket ready for China's first manned space docking

Long March 7 carrier rocket to lift off in five years

CYBER WARS
ISS Plays Role in Vaccine Development

Though Shuttle Retired, ISS Still Open For Business, Research Going Strong

New date set for Europe's resupply mission to ISS

A New Website Sharing ISS Benefits For Humanity

CYBER WARS
Launch Madness at Wallops in March - "Five in Five"

Engineers Tuck NuSTAR in its Nose Cone

Lockheed Martin Selects Alaska's Kodiak Launch Complex To Support Future Athena Launches

The initial Ariane 5 for launch in 2012 completes its final assembly

CYBER WARS
Stars with Dusty Disks Should Harbor Earth-like Worlds

Star Comb joins quest for Earth-like planets

Researchers say galaxy may swarm with 'nomad planets'

New model provides different take on planetary accretion

CYBER WARS
Shift to green energy sources could mean crunch in supply of scarce metals

Authors Guild worried by Apple e-book suit report

Smart, self-healing hydrogels open far-reaching possibilities in medicine, engineering

'SimCity' game rebuilt for age of climate change




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement