John Heidemann

Correlating Spam Activity with IP Address Characteristics

TitleCorrelating Spam Activity with IP Address Characteristics
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsC. Wilcox, C. Papadopoulos, and J. Heidemann
Date Publishedmar
Conference LocationSan Diego, California, USA

It is well known that spam bots mostly utilize compromised machines with certain address characteristics, such as dynamically allocated addresses, machines in specific geographic areas and IP ranges from AS' with more tolerant spam policies. Such machines tend to be less diligently administered and may exhibit less stability, more volatility, and shorter uptimes. However, few studies have attempted to quantify how such spam bot address characteristics compare with non-spamming hosts. Quantifying these characteristics may help provide important information for comprehensive spam mitigation. We use two large datasets, namely a commercial blacklist and an Internet-wide address visibility study to quantify address characteristics of spam and non-spam networks. We find that spam networks exhibit significantly less availability and uptime, and higher volatility than non-spam networks. In addition, we conduct a collateral damage study of a common practice where an ISP blocks the entire /24 prefix if spammers are detected in that range. We find that such a policy blacklists a significant portion of legitimate mail servers belonging to the same prefix.