Thursday, April 22, 2010

Cloud Computing

Legitimate cloud computing is the trillion dollar wave of the future. Where's your email? Hotmail? Yahoo? Gmail? If it's not on your hard drive, it's in the cloud.

Google Docs? The cloud. Google Calendar? The cloud. Use a web-based backup service? You are backed up to the cloud.

If your data is stored on some server out there in cyberspace and accessed via the Internet using any computer, you are already working in the cloud.

Even Windows Live, the blogosphere, enhanced web bookmarking and clipping services such as DiggIt! StumbleUpon, de.lic.i.ous, and EverNote, and social networking services like Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter are essentially extensions, or faces, of the cloud.

The beginnings of this were once called Web 2.0.

There is a shadowy side to this leviathan that will surprise you and, once grasped, deepen your understanding of just what the cloud is.

For the largest cloud in the world is actually proprietary to a criminal enterprise. It is the botnet cloud based on the Conficker worm. As explained by Spectre Group:

Conficker controls 6.4 million computer systems in 230 countries at 230 top level domains globally, more than 18 million CPUs and 28 terabits per second of bandwidth, said Rodney Joffe, senior vice president and senior technologist at the infrastructure services firm Neustar. The biggest cloud on the planet is controlled by a vast criminal enterprise that uses that botnet to send spam, hack computers, spread malware and steal personal information and money, Joffe said.

All that bandwith is fodder for a conversation about "net neutrality," but that is another topic.

This huge "botnet cloud is available for rent and and is just about anywhere in the world. It can be used for a variety of purposes, be [it] a denial-of-service attack, spam distribution or data exfiltration," according to Spectre (emphasis added). Note "available for rent" -- by criminal enterprise. Illicit computing run on hijacked computers around the world (the cloud) without the owner's knowledge or consent.

Consider legitimate and illegitimate cloud computing:

Provider Computers CPUs Bandwith
Conficker 6.4 million 18 million 28 terabits/second
Google 500,000 1 million 1,500 Gps
Amazon 160,000 320,000 300 Gps

A terabit, incidentally, is one trillion bits -- or 1,000 gigabits. So Confiker consumes almost 19 times as much bandwith as Google's cloud computing services.

Now you know how all the spam gets to you . . . .

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