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Routing worm: a fast, selective attack worm based on IP address information

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4 Author(s)
Zou, C.C. ; Dept. of Electr. & Comput. Eng., Massachusetts Univ., Amherst, MA, USA ; Towsley, D. ; Gong, W. ; Cai, S.

Most well-known worms, such as Code Red, Slammer, Blaster, and Sasser, infected vulnerable computers by scanning the entire IPv4 address space. In this paper, we present an advanced worm called "routing worm", which implements two advanced attacking techniques. First, a routing worm uses BGP routing tables to only scan the Internet mutable address space, which allows it propagate three times faster than a traditional worm. Second, and more importantly, the geographic information of BGP routing prefixes enables a routing worm to conduct pinpoint "selective attacks" by imposing heavy damage to vulnerable computers in a specific country, company, Internet service provider, or autonomous system, without collateral damage done to others. Because of the inherent publicity of BGP routing tables, attackers can easily deploy routing worms, which distinguishes the routing worm from other "worst-case" worms. Compared to a traditional worm, a routing worm could possibly cause more severe congestion to the Internet backbone since all scans sent out by a routing worm are Internet mutable (and can only be dropped at the destinations). In addition, it is harder to quickly detect a routing-worm infected computer since we cannot distinguish illegal scans from regular connections without waiting for traffic responses. In order to defend against routing worms and all scanning worms, an effective way is to upgrade the current Internet from IPv4 to IPv6, although such an upgrade will require a tremendous effort and is still a controversial issue.

Published in:

Principles of Advanced and Distributed Simulation, 2005. PADS 2005. Workshop on

Date of Conference:

1-3 June 2005

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