Category Archives: Snowshoe

Almost… FortressITX zero spam for one day then up in

AS 25653 FortressITX went to zero for one day, 15 May, in the May 2012  U.S., but bounded back up to more than 294,000 spam messages a day a week later, placing #6 for the month as a whole.

This was the second time FortressITX made the U.S. top 10. It had been #9 in March, but had dropped out of the April 2012 U.S. rankings. And yes, it’s snowshoe spam. That ASN does show a few other problems, also not botnets.


Canada, land of spam plateaus on

Snowshoe spam took #1 in Canada again, through AS 32613 IWEB-AS, on the May 2012 That was the first week of a spam plateau per ASN. The next week saw a platau for AS 33139 CANACA-210. And the next week it was AS 6407 PRIMUS. Canada, land of spam plateaus! Does this mean spammers are shifting from ASN to ASN for successive weeks of spam campaigns?

The old-time winners, AS 6327 SHAW and AS 577 BACOM, kept spamming away, and came in #2 and #6 again. That’s in the rankings from CBL data. In rankings from PSBL data, IWEB, SHAW, and BACOM were #1, #2, and #3.

We actually saw less spam in May (CBL data) from Bell Canada’s BACOM than for any month since March 2011, the first month of rankings for Congratulations Bell Canada!

The rest of the top six were upstarts, not much seen until recently. Iweb did make a bid for the top back in September 2011, but its recent predominance dates only from February of this year.


CDM snowshoes to the top of the world in May 2012

In addition to snowshoe spam taking 7 of the top 10 U.S. for May 2012, one of the snowshoe spamming companies, CDM, outspammed every other organization in the world! CDM’s AS 6428 outspammed even chronic world winner Vietnam PT.

In this graph, you can see CDM leap up from zero in March to 15.7 million spam messages in April and 48.8 million in May, and of course that’s just the messages caught by a few spamtraps.

The same spamtraps never saw more than 56 hosts sending all those messages. That was on 11 May 2012, when they saw 1,989,762 spam messages, for a ratio of 35,531 spam messages per sending host. That’s not exactly the old botnet low-and-slow technique. Snowshoe spam: it’s already in prime time!

And remember, CDM is not a hosting center: it’s an ISP. CDM continues to illustrate that snowshoe spam is no longer confined to the traditional profile of infesting hosting centers.


An ISP snowshoes ahead in spamming

Continuing the question of Ogee snowshoe: black swan or new strategy? let’s look at Ogee snowshoe spam in the first week of May 2012.

The two dotted lines trending down together in the middle are AS 29131 and AS 28178, and they both fit the traditional profile for snowshoe spam hosting sites, because they advertise hosting or colocation as their main services. AS 29131 is registered to RapidSwitch, which advertises dedicated servers, cloud solutions, and colocation. AS 28178, registered as Network Operations Center (NOC), which keeps on rolling waves of snowshoe spam, appears to be operating under the name BurstNet, which offers managed servers and co-location as its first two services.

However, the dotted line rising to the top right that pulled the solid overall snowshoe volume line back up is not a hosting center: it’s an ISP. CDM’s AS 6428 appears to be operating as Primary Network, whose first services are T-1 Internet access and metro Internet. And Primary Network is not alone. We’ve pulled out a list of all the ASNs affected by Ogee snowshoe so far, and quite a few of them are ISPs, some of them very well known ISPs.

Snowshoe: it’s not just for hosting centers anymore.


Ogee snowshoe: black swan or new strategy?

A week ago you may recall most of March’s crop of Ogee spamming ASNs had subsided. Yet there were some contenders coming up from the bottom right corner of the graph.

Some correspondents say snowshoe spamming such as Ogee is a black swan, unanticipated and short-lived. I say it may be a change in strategy. Others say the actual spam coming out of Ogee is not the same campaigns as we’ve seen from botnets, so spammers are not moving over. To which I say: yet. And if snowshoe spam is big enough to change worldwide, and if it continues, that’s a strategy change. We’ll see how all that goes.

Meanwhile, what’s happened in the last week or two?

Top 10 ASNs showing Ogee spam 2012-03-01 to 2012-04-25,

A few of those contenders were just flashes in the pan. But others are still spamming increasingly more.


Which ASNs showed most Ogee snowshoe spam in March and early April?

Snowshoe spamming begins to look like a rising tide.

Peaking at the end of March 2012, the Ogee snowshoe spam winner is AS 16226 GNAXNET-AS – Global Net Access LLC. GNAXNet actually placed another Autonomous System in the same time frame, AS 3595.

U.S. Brinkster’s AS 33055 BCC-65-182-96-0-PHX finally cleaned up its act and went to zero Ogee volume 11 April 2012. Canada’s AS 32613 IWeb also went to zero on 23 March 2012.

On the other hand, it looks like a new surge of snowshoe spam is starting mid-April, including some organizations maybe not usually considered hosting companies, such as Cogent’s AS 174.

Meanwhile, Belarus’ AS 6697 BELPAK-AS already went from #7 to #5 worldwide in March, pushing Belarus up from #16 to #12 among countries.

And NOC’s AS 21788 keeps on rolling waves of snowshoe spam.

All these volume numbers and rankings are provisional, especially considering we’re seeing so many ASes and netblocks that were previously not spamming that we’re tuning our database to be sure we’re properly accounting for them all.

Nonetheless, it looks like snowshoe may be a rising spamming strategy.


Ogee pushed iWeb and Canada up in March 2012

AS 32613 IWEB-AS was far ahead of the Canadian spamming pack in the March 2012 iWeb improved a lot towards the end of the month, but will it stay improved? AS 14366 MTNCABLE plateaued early, dropped, then took first at the end of the month. Could they have the same problem?

Why yes, both iWeb and MTNCABLE appear to be infested by Ogee snowshoe spamming.

This problem is bad enough that Canada rose from country #46 in January to #34 in February and #25 in March. You can’t see that on the countries top 10, like you can for the U.S., which snowshoe spamming pushed to #1 worldwide in March, but internally keeps track of rankings of all countries worldwide, and indeed Canada went form #46 in January to #25 in March.


Snowshoe spamming pushed the U.S. to #1 worldwide in March 2012

Previously unseen Brinkster’s AS 33055 BCC-65-182-96-0-PHX took first place. AS 10439 CARINET leapt from #8 last month to #4 for March for the U.S., and was up to second place at the end of the month. Six ASNs joined the U.S. top 10: were they all due to snowshoe spam, too? Brinkster was so bad it made #8 on the world top 10!

Last month’s winner AS 21788 NOC finally cleaned up its act a bit, dropping from #1 to #5. Six ASNs dropped out of the top 10. Four of them (Webhost-ASN-1, LIMESTONENETWORKS, PEER1, and ATMLINK) popped to the top 10 last month due to snowshoe spam. The other two (NTT and Charter’s ASNs) didn’t even have to spam less to drop out, because this month’s top 10 had so much more spam.

But the US ASNs that got worse pushed the U.S. to #1 spamming country. The slope of that U.S. world top 10 curve for the last dozen days of March looks just like the Brinkster and CARINET ASN curves in the U.S. top 10. Very impressive, to drive the whole country into the countries top 10!




Did snowshoe spamming cause the big February spam surge?

It turns out the source of the big spam surge that rocketed eight ASNs

1 (9) AS 21788 NOC
2 (-) AS 27229 WEBHOST-ASN1
4 (-) AS 33055 BCC-65-182-96-0-PHX
6 (5) AS 15149 EZZI-101-BGP
7 (-) AS 13768 PEER1
8 (-) AS 10439 CARINET
9 (-) AS 7796 ATMLINK
to the top of the U.S. February 2012 was not a botnet: it was apparently snowshoe spamming. Here are the most-affected eight U.S. ASNs again, with their rankings for February, listed in the table on the right.

So, Ogee is not a botnet; it is a collection of IP addresses apparently involved in snowshoe spam. It’s also not new. Ogee is just a specific set of snowshoe addresses. But what is snowshoe spam?

Paul Roberts wrote for ThreatPost 6 October 2011, Expert: Eight Years Later, ‘Snowshoe Spam’ Suggests CAN SPAM Not Working,

Brett Cove, a researcher for anti malware firm Sophos, told attendees at the annual Virus Bulletin Conference on Thursday that so-called “snowshoe spam” is becoming a bigger problem, even as spam e-mail volumes associated with botnets are receding. Snowshoe spam is responsible for the bulk of spam messages that make it past anti spam filters at U.S. firms, even as bulk senders avoid prosecution by adhering to the letter of the U.S. CAN SPAM anti-spamming law.

Snowshoe spam isn’t a new problem. In fact, within anti spam circles, researchers have been talking about the phenomenon for years. The term “snowshoe” spam comes from the tactic of spreading the load of spam runs across a wide range of IP addresses as a way to avoid detection by anti spam filters, in the same way that snowshoes spread the weight of their wearer across a wide area to avoid breaking through snow and ice.

Anti spam filters are typically programmed to allow only a small volume of identical e-mail messages from the same IP address range, Cove told Threatpost. Snowshoe spam is able to avoid—or postpone—the filters by sending mail from a range of addresses, often leased by the bulk mail senders, he said.

That may sound a lot like low-and-slow botnet spamming, but there are five key differences:

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What other ASNs were affected by botnet Ogee in February 2012?

Previously we determined that nine ASNs that showed spam surges in the U.S. and Canadian top 10 for February 2012 were infested by the botnet Ogee and that spam came from that botnet. What other ASNs were affected by Ogee in the same time period?

Let’s look at the top 10 ASNs infested by Ogee according to spam volume for 1 Feb 2012 to 12 Mar 2012:

Left Axis: Total Ogee volume (spam messages);
Right Axis: top 10 Ogee ASN volume (dotted curves)

It looks like Ogee is a new botnet, since all these top 10 ASNs came up from zero volume before 18 February 2012. The biggest initial peak in this graph is from AS 21788 NOC, #1 in the U.S. February top 10, and the biggest late surge is from AS 10439 CARINET, #8 in that same ranking. Right below CARINET is AS 32613 IWEB-AS, Canadian February #1. The rest of the 8 Ogee-infested from the U.S. top 10 previously described also are in there, except AS 7796 ATMLINK and AS 13768 PEER1.

New here are these three: Continue reading