Rodney Joffe, senior vice president and senior technologist at the infrastructure services firm Neustar, gave a keynote presentation on Cloud Computing for Criminals at the recent Cloud Connect conference. Joffe presents some figures which show that the computational size of the Conficker botnet dwarfs the current commercial offerings, based on measuring the number of systems, the number of CPUs and available bandwidth. For Conficker these values are given (estimated?) as
- 6,400,000 systems
- 18,000,000+ CPUs
- 28 Terabits of bandwidth
These corresponding measures for Google are 500,000 systems, 1,500,000 CPUs and 1,500 Gbps of bandwidth, with Amazon and Rackspace providing significantly less resources. So Conficker is a massive ad hoc computational structure. But is Conficker really like a cloud service? Joffe says yes because
- It’s available for rent
- Choose your geographies
- Choose your networks
- Choose your bandwidth
- Choose your OS Version
- Choose your specialty (DDoS, Spam, Data Exfiltration)
and further the vendor has good qualifications
- Much more experience (1998)
- Larger footprint (Millions of systems)
- Unlimited new resources (New malware)
- No costs
- No moral, ethical, or legal constraints
This doesn't seem to have received much attention, but the world's most powerful supercomputer entered operation recently. Comprising between 1 and 10 million CPUs (depending on whose estimates you believe), the Storm botnet easily outperforms the currently top-ranked system, BlueGene/L, with a mere 128K CPU cores. Using the figures from Valve's online survey
for which the typical machine has a 2.3 - 3.3 GHz single core CPU with about 1GB of RAM, the Storm cluster has the equivalent of 1-10M (approximately) 2.8 GHz P4s with 1-10 petabytes of RAM (BlueGene/L has a paltry 32 terabytes). In fact this composite system has better hardware resources than what's listed at http://www.top500.org.
This may be the first time that a top 10 supercomputer has been controlled not by a government or megacorporation but by criminals. The question remains, now that they have the world's most powerful supercomputer system at their disposal, what are they going to do with it?
And I wonder what the LINPACK rating for Storm is?
And I wonder what the LINPACK rating is for Conficker?