Daily Archives: September 7, 2007

Scary analysis of Storm Worm

The Storm Worm. A virus and set of malware that has been spreading across the internet since January 2007. According to this article, it is now estimated that it has turned up to 50 Million computers into bots (or Zombie Computers), and is more powerful than a supercomputer.

So, I thought, a fine time to do some number crunching, to see if we can see approximately how powerful this bot-net is. (See here for the full article, with calculations at the bottom, if you’re looking at this from the homepage.)
The bot-net will probably have a maximum of around 40,000 Terahertz (THz) at its disposal. To put that into perspective, the worlds fastest supercomputer (The Blue Gene L) has around 91.8 Terahertz.

Ok, that is a really, really impressive amount of processing power. But what use is that power without being able to get data (spam emails etc.) onto the internet?

61 GigaBytes a second.

You heard me right. The bot network, will have the estimated capacity to pump 61 Gigabytes of data onto the internet per second.

At 20KB an email, thats 3,200,000 (Three Million Two Hundred Thousand), emails per second.
Revised email calculations (see note below): at 11.73KB an email, thats 5,442,177 emails per second.

Or, at 750MB per CDROM, thats 83.3 discs per second.
I think the term “Houston, we have a problem” doesn’t even come close to showing the amount of pain these guys can cause. At that rate of data transfer, this cracker (“hacker” for mass-media) group will be able to take any website in the world off-line, with a Distributed Denial of Service attack. They may even be able to take the internet offline, with another Backbone attack.
Now, this has been a almost-worst-case scenario, but trust me when I say, this is not good. I think, something drastic may be in order.

Note: Checkout my math and assumptions by clicking the “Read More” (if you’re not already in the full post). If you see any problems, or have some more-up-to-date information, feel free to register, and add a comment. (Sorry about forcing you to register. Spammers have been causing problems ><.) Alternatively, my email address can be found on the “about” page above.”
Update: Looks like the bot-net is being brought into play to attack anti-spammer websites.

Update #2: The webmaster of spamnation.info has confirmed (roughly) the analysis of this article, which says the average spam email is 11.76KB. As such, I have revised my email calculations. I’ll probably post a follow-up to this, if I can get any more accurate data to go on, and I may re-do all of the calculations at some point, with a more conservative bot number estimate base.


All calculations are in computer-style notation, so * for multiplication, and / for division.

Processing Capacity (Zombies)

Assume 40 Million infected computers, (even though the article says 50,000,000, lets err more on the safe side…) 40,000,000.

Assume an average of 1Ghz processor in each computer. (Its probably more like 1.5, but safe side again.) 40,000,000 Gigahertz (GHz)

40000000/1000 = 40,000 Terahertz (THz)

Processing Capacity (Blue Gene L Super Computer)

Blue Gene L, has 131,072 Processors, each running at 0.7 GHz (700 Mhz).

131072 * 0.7 = 91750.4 Ghz

91750.4 / 1000 = 91.8 Thz (Rounded to 1 decimal place)

Data Transfer (Zombies)

Assume 40 Million infected computers. 40,000,000.

Assume that each computer has about 128kb/s upload rate. (Probably closer to at least 256kb/s, but lets err on the safe site. 40 million is a lot of computers…)

Get the 128 Kilobits into KiloBytes. 1 KiloByte = 8 KiloBits, so:

128 / 8 = 16KB/s per bot.

40000000 * 16 = 64,000,000KB/s transfer rate. Ok, that’s too mind-boggling. Lets get the numbers to be more sensible.

1 MegaByte = 1024 KiloBytes, so:
64000000 / 1024 = 62,500/s. Not readable yet. Again.

1 GigaByte = 1024 MegaBytes, so:
62500 / 1024 = 61GB/s (rounded to 0 decimal places). Err… I did do these sums right… *checks*. Wow.

Emails per second with 61GB/s bandwidth.

Assume an Average spam email size of 20 KiloBytes (This article says 11.76KB, but its out of date, and source is offline. Err on safe side.)

From our bandwidth calculations above, there is 64,000,000 KB/s bandwidth available. So:

64000000 / 20 = 3,200,000 per second.

Emails per second with 61GB/s bandwidth (Revised calculations).

The 11.76KB appears to be accurate, so lets revise these calculations to take that into account.

Bandwidth 64,000,000 KB/s.

64000000 / 11.76 = 5,442,177 emails per second (Rounded to 0 decimal places.)

CDs per second with 61GB/s bandwidth.

CD-ROM total size : 750MB.

From bandwidth calculations above, 62,500 MB/s.

62500 / 750 = 83.3 CDROMS worth of data transfer per second. (Rounded to one decimal point)