420 000 servers hacked to create a web map
An anonymous researcher realized his “dream” by creating a world web map. For this, he infected nearly 420,000 machines in the world to achieve the amount of computation needed for the experience.
The technique used to produce a web map consist to send the command “ping” (test the accessibility of an IP address from one machine to another) to all existing IPv4 addresses, which represents about 4 billion possible addresses. These addresses are used by all devices connected to the Internet.
By calculating the response time of each request, and the path taken by the data, it’s possible to establish a representation of the repartition of the global Internet.
To achieve this feat, it’s necessary to have a strong computing capability to perform the most possible queries simultaneously. Indeed, it should take theoretically 126 years with a single machine to develop this map, at the rate of one request per second.
To solve this problem, the researcher developed a botnet of its design. Then he installed it illegally on nearly 420,000 machines. Without informing the users, the software allowed the researcher to use these computers to establish the map in only 6 months.
On his website http://internetcensus2012.bitbucket.org/, where he explains his approach, he said he hacked machines only poorly protected or without protections. Similarly, the researcher said he had programmed his botnet to use the less of computer’s resources. Despite this, and even if the intentions were not malicious, the anonymous researcher risks years in jail for having broken into private computers and installing the software without people’s agreement.