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Anonymous Hacker Conducts Secret and Illegal IPv4 Census

By Dmitry Sheynin , Mar 26, 2013 01:40 PM EDT
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An anonymous hacker has done the unthinkable — hacking the entire planet. By creating a 420,000-strong botnet, the researcher was able to create the most accurate map of the global Internet ever conceived, and it was all incredibly illegal.

The hacker's methods were fairly rudimentary, but extremely effective. Essentially, he hacked nearly a half million computers and simply pinged each one to map the results. The map he subsequently created is represented in a .gif image that shows not only where people are accessing the Internet from, but also what their traffic patterns are.

The map is already on its way to becoming obsolete since A) it measures traffic from 2012 and B) It registers only the devices connecting via IPv4. While that protocol is still very common, IPv6 is the new standard.

The hack, first reported on Motherboard, has fairly limited real-world use, which is to be expected, since the hacker says he did it primarily for fun. One of the more startling statistics culled from the data is that hundreds of thousands of devices, mainly routers, are either entirely unprotected from attacks or utilize stock passwords that come preloaded from the manufacturer.  

A recently published research paper explains how the hack works:

"After completing the scan of roughly one hundred thousand IP addresses, we realized the number of insecure devices must be at least one hundred thousand. Starting with one device and assuming a scan speed of ten IP addresses per second, it should find the next open device within one hour. The scan rate would be doubled if we deployed a scanner to the newly found device. After doubling the scan rate in this way about 16.5 times, all unprotected devices would be found; this would take only 16.5 hours. Additionally, with one hundred thousand devices scanning at ten probes per second we would have a distributed port scanner to port scan the entire IPv4 Internet within one hour."

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