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Interop Feature Articles

May 01, 2008
Comcast and Verizon Showcase Ability to Battle Spam at Interop

Comcast and Verizon (News - Alert) showcased the methods they are using to battle spam at the Interop show this week in Las Vegas. Executives from both companies participated in a discussion on fighting these bad elements in networking.



 
Comcast (News - Alert) is a communications company focused on broadband cable, commerce, and content and a provider of cable services. Verizon Communications is an American broadband and telecommunications company.
 
The problem of spam on an individual computer may not seem like a staggering problem, since the ser can choose to remove junk messages at will, InternetNews.com noted. But at the level of national carriers, spam become a gigantic problem that can affect the whole network.
 
Comcast engineer Michael O'Reirdan told InternetNews.com that, on a typical day, the company’s network will perform one billion connections and out of that 90 percent will be spam —  900 million spam connections. Comcast employs a DNS approach to tackle this and does not pass these bad connections to its users.
 
The DNS Blacklist will help identify possible locations of spam, enabling servers to avoid those connections in the future. This task only uses a small amount of processing power.
 
"Over 70 percent of the bad traffic Comcast receives is discarded using DNSBLs," O'Reirdan told the Interop (News - Alert) audience, according to InternetNews’ report.
 
According to O'Reirdan, for server operators who believe they are unfairly blocked, Comcast directs blocked senders to the specific DNS blacklist that was used, allowing people to attempt to self-remediate and get unblocked.
 
Comcast is also preparing itself for the spam challenge that is going to come out of the new IPv6 generation which has more addresses than the present IPv4. "We know spammers will get allocations of addresses," O'Reirdan said in the InternetNews.com report.
 
On behalf of Verizon, Marcus Sachs, executive director of government affairs and national security policy at Verizon addressed the audience. Sachs spoke about his efforts with the Internet Storm Center at SANS (ISC). Sachs is an active member of the ISC, a nonprofit group that provides a weather report for Internet security.
 
"We get about a half billion log lines per month," InternetNews.com quoted Sachs as saying, adding that a log line is an "unexpected inbound packet stream" received by a sensor.
 
The ISC uses a tool called DShield for forecasting the bad traffic that is going to hit the network. The loglines will be processed by the ISC to check whether an Internet security storm is under way. It also provides some insight into just how much bad traffic is on the Internet today and how fast it can hit users.
 
One of the most interesting data points for Sachs is one that tracks how quickly a new computer logging on to the Internet for the first time will see some form of bad traffic.
 
"It now only takes four of five minutes from the time you first connect until you get evil," Sachs said in the InternetNews.com report. "That's scary — a year or two ago it used to be in the 20-minute era."  
 
Nathesh is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Nathesh’s articles, please visit his columnist page.
 

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