Posted by Virus Bulletin on Feb 1, 2011
Spammers finding new ways to obtain non-blacklisted addresses.
While not necessarily related to the current unrest in Egypt - which, among other things, led to the cutting off of most the country from the Internet - over 5,000 IP addresses belonging to the wife of the country's president have been hijacked by spammers.
The range of addresses was assigned to the Suzanne Mubarak Science Exploration Center several years ago and may well have been dormant for some time. However, spammers managed to hijack the range and have been using it to send spam pushing a number of dodgy web businesses.
IP blacklisting has been a major anti-spam tool for some years and thus for a spam campaign to be successful it helps a great deal if the emails are sent from addresses that have not (yet) been blacklisted. Stealing dormant IP ranges is a method that is becoming more popular among spammers; they manage to gain control of the addresses by registering expired domains or sending forged letters to the regional Internet registry.
With IPv4 addresses becoming scarcer, a secondary market of dormant but assigned IPv4 addresses is likely to arise and one can be certain that those with less honest intentions will find ways to benefit from this market too. Registries ought to be aware of this issue and those in the anti-spam business - particularly those running IP blacklists - should ensure they respond swiftly to the abuse of hijacked IP addresses.