Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Largest Cloud in the World is Dark, Shady, and Criminally Owned

When thinking of the largest cloud computing network known to man, what companies come to mind? Microsoft? Sure they have alot of computers but not even close. Amazon? Getting bigger but still not even in the same ballpark. Google? As monstrous as their cloud is, its a mere drop in the ocean. The largest cloud in the tech world isn't controlled by a brick and mortar corporation, but rather it is a network of computers controlled by the Conficker computer worm across more than 200 countries in the world. So just how big is the worlds biggest cloud?

"Conficker controls 6.4 million computer systems in 230 countries at 230 top level domains globally with more than 18 million CPUs and 28 terabits per second of bandwidth." said Rodney Joffe, senior vice president and senior technologist at the infrastructure services firm Neustar.

In other words the biggest cloud on the planet is controlled by an unknown criminal enterprise that rents out their botnet to send spam, perform a denial-of-service attack, hack computers, spread malware, and steal personal information and money. In fact, it is believed that much of the comment spam that plagues many blogs is spawned from a portion of the conficker cloud. Put simply, the cloud is "mobbed up."

In many ways, the Conficker cloud is much more competitive than legit vendors. The operators have experience with the virus dating back to 1998 and their footprint is bigger than any cloud previously seen. On top of that there are no moral, ethical, or legal constraints with the added bonus of zero costs. There is even an unlimited supply of new resources readily available as the conficker spreads far and wide to take over and steal more computing power.

Just like legitimate cloud vendors, Conficker is available for rent and can be found just about anywhere in the world a user would want their cloud to be based. Users can choose the amount of bandwidth they want, the kind of operating system they want to use, and even what kind of services will be installed into the cloud such as spam distribution, dos attacks, etc.

By the way, just in case you were wondering, the biggest legitimate cloud provider is Google which is made up of approximately 500,000 systems, 1 million CPUs and 1,500 gigabits per second (Gbps) of bandwdith. Coming in second is Amazonwith 160,000 systems, 320,000 CPUs and 400 Gbps of bandwidth. The third largest legit cloud is owned by Rackspace, which offers 65,000 systems, 130,000 CPUs and 300 Gbps.

Although the last major attack performed by the Conficker cloud occurred over a year ago against the Manchester police department, the virus is still considered a very real and palpable threat. If you fear you are infected by the Conficker virus you can try out this Conficker Eye Chart which pulls images from three sites that Conficker is known to block and displays them in a box. If all the images show up you're in good shape, but if one or more doesn't display it could indicate a Conficker or other malware infection. Be aware that if you are browsing from behind a proxy, you may be able to see all the images and still be infected.

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