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Spamming and scanning botnets - is there something I can do to block them from my site?

Published: 2014-01-14
Last Updated: 2014-01-14 12:12:26 UTC
by Chris Mohan (Version: 1)
4 comment(s)
Spamming and scanning botnets - is there something I can do to block them from my site?
 
This question keeps popping up on forums and all places popular with those beleaguer souls despondent of the random spamming and over filled logs from scanning. Although this isn't a Magic ball question answer does come out a: Maybe, Maybe not.
 
The reason behind the ambiguity is logical, to a degree; it’s easy trying to hinder, frustrate and reduce the effectiveness of automated botnet processes, like posting and scanning rather than stop them dead. 
 
Why? Glad you asked.
 
Botnets tend to a number of systems located in random locations globally, you'll get some that are regional specific, but the majority we at the Internet Storm Center (ISC) see are global in distribution. So unless you can pick out only the  six IP addresses you completely trust as good*, you’re accessible to every system on the planet that has an internet link. 
 
First and foremost you need to look at your logs find those non-human attacks or blog spamming posts. We keep saying here at the ISC you need to understand your logs. If you don’t understand what you’re seeing research it or writing in to us. It doesn’t take too long to be able to work out a real human interaction against an automated non-human one. Have a look at one our recent posts [1] to see the types of patterns automated processes leave behind in logs. 
 
Let say you are now at one with your logs files, so what next? From a random reader's submission for the bots they logged I did a little Excel shuffling, then some IP geo-locationing followed by more Excel-ing, finally braking the IP addressed down to which country they came from. The results were interesting as Spain has the highest set of bad IPs (13%), follow by: Argentina (9%), Italy(8%), Colombia (5%), United States (5%), United Kingdom (4%), Mexico (4%), Romania (4%) and Germany (4%).
 
So what can we divine from these random statistics? First we can acknowledge this is botnet has a significant portion of it bots in Europe, second the next biggest group is in South America, leave the United States well out of the picture. Yeah so what, I hear you yell. Now go back on look at the locations your human visitors came from. With a simple bit of review, you’ll be able to work out you never see visitors, say from South America and New Zealand IP address ranages. 
 
Now you can make the determination to black list (deny) net blocks in those countries from very be able to access your web site or blog. On the flip side you could block everything and white list (allow) certain countries. Or go crazy and play wack-a-mole by adding in every single bad IP address to a block list. It’s up to you.
 
The point of this piece is look at your logs, understand your visitors, work out who actually needs to get to your site and block out the rest if the now constant automated scans annoy you.
 
Remember Dshield loves logs [2] and Handlers love weird logs and packets, so start off your New Year by looking at your logs and sending in anything wild, crazy or that just seems plain odd to us at the Storm Center [3]. You’ll learn some new and might help someone who's been puzzling over the same questions you’re looking at now.
 
[1] https://isc.sans.edu/diary/Massive+PHP+RFI+scans/17387
[2] https://isc.sans.edu/howto.html 
[3] https://isc.sans.edu/contact.html#contact-form 
 
* This kinda of breaks the Internet model and takes us back to the good ol’day of having host file to resolve stuff on the ‘Net
 

Chris Mohan --- Internet Storm Center Handler on Duty

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