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Crazy Firewall Log Activity — What Does It Mean? 344

arkowitz writes "I happened to have access to five days worth of firewall logs from a US state government agency. I wrote a parser to grab unique IPs out, and sent several million of them to a company called Quova, who gave me back full location info on every 40th one. I then used Green Phosphor's Glasshouse visualization tool to have a look at the count of inbound packets, grouped by country of origin and hour. And it's freaking crazy looking. So I made the video of it and I'm asking the Slashdot community: What the heck is going on?"
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Crazy Firewall Log Activity — What Does It Mean?

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  • by conner_bw ( 120497 ) * on Saturday January 23, 2010 @10:25PM (#30874766) Journal

    Not sure what it means, but I'm tempted to plug-in Guitar Hero and jam along to your firewall logs.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by KshGoddess ( 454304 )
      That's what I thought it was for. Srsly, they're your firewall logs. You should have some clue where inbound traffic is coming from and why. If you've got a webserver serving some sort of information that changes, this could be rss readers hitting your site. Or it could be pings of death being dropped by your firewall. It could be web surfers getting to work and hitting you up for information, or browsers grabbing some active information on your site. It could be googlebots. It could be slashdot hits for
      • Re:Skylab Shreds (Score:4, Insightful)

        by bakes ( 87194 ) on Saturday January 23, 2010 @10:44PM (#30874934) Journal

        Yes, he knows the firewall and the traffic. The question is - why is there suddenly traffic suddenly appearing from every country in the world at the same time? and again a number of hours later? And again 5 or 6 times? Suddenly there is inbound packets from every country in the world, for an hour or two, then it dies off. For some countries, the first 'stripe' is also the start of consistently higher traffic from that country. Does this mean anything?

        I think it might be more useful to know the actual dates, and see if this corresponds with any spikes in spam or virus activity. What would be most useful would be know the dest port number of the inbound traffic, that could give us much better clues as to the reasons behind the patterns.

        • Re:Skylab Shreds (Score:5, Insightful)

          by rednip ( 186217 ) on Saturday January 23, 2010 @11:07PM (#30875100) Journal
          You're trying imagine shapes in clouds, there is no context. Video conference call, maybe? Also, could be synchronization, or backups. Spooky garbage for the tin foil hat crowd, I hear theres a good business in it these days. It's an ad for a 3D graphing service.
          • Video conference calls do not last for hours or days. And why would somebody in China or Romania be "backing up" data from a state government website?
            • by Khyber ( 864651 )

              "Video conference calls do not last for hours or days."

              Maybe not in your world, but then again it's likely you've never been in a Camfrog room. Also, on Skype, my UK and AUS partners and I just leave the conversation going. If any of us are near the computer and hear the others, we'll speak up and start a conversation. It's much simpler. Our machines are all located in our in-home offices.

              I usually leave Camfrog and Skype open and connected 24/7. It's just much simpler that way.

          • Re:Skylab Shreds (Score:5, Insightful)

            by pipatron ( 966506 ) <> on Saturday January 23, 2010 @11:45PM (#30875348) Homepage

            It's an ad for a 3D graphing service.

            Indeed, the guy from the graphing service is the same guy who made this.

          • by adolf ( 21054 )

            Conference calls, backups, and synchronization from damn near every country on earth? For an agency within a single US state? No.

            Also, too: The packet rates are far too low for those activities. If you watch TFV, you'll see that the largest users are only up to around a couple hundred packets per hour, which is such small number that even if you multiply it by 40 (due to the scaling done by the geo-IP service[1]), it's still far too small for those activities that you listed.

            Any other theories?

            [1]: It'

            • Re:Skylab Shreds (Score:4, Interesting)

              by ultranova ( 717540 ) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @08:36AM (#30877568)

              Any other theories?

              A botnet attack? But then the activity shouldn't be concentrated by country, but spread around the world about evenly.

              Or it could be that someone's seeding a torrent from behind the firewall. That would explain the suddenly starting continuous activity. It might also explain the concentration by country (language or timezone). It would help if the graph could be organized by such factors.

        • Re:Skylab Shreds (Score:5, Insightful)

          by MojoRilla ( 591502 ) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @12:01AM (#30875436)
          Uh...a bot net?

          That would explain most of it.
          • Re:Skylab Shreds (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Mal-2 ( 675116 ) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @12:05AM (#30875452) Homepage Journal

            Also is he plotting this based on potentially spoofed IP addresses? I'm thinking not just a botnet, but a botnet that doesn't care if it's getting packets back or not. It may not be every country in the world, just a bunch of random IPs coming from zombies which may (or may not) be in far-flung places.


        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Nikker ( 749551 )
          It does seem like a type of coordination of interest in the site possibly a bot-net but it could also be due to press releases or other media publications since it is a gov site. You would have to look over many days and not just hours to come up with something conclusive but it is none the less interesting that every country even those in different time zones accessed at the same time and it is odd that the Chinese are interested that much in a US gov site at the same time but I digress. Overall more inf
        • Re:Skylab Shreds (Score:5, Interesting)

          by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @12:34AM (#30875628) Homepage Journal

          Yes, he knows the firewall and the traffic. The question is - why is there suddenly traffic suddenly appearing from every country in the world at the same time? and again a number of hours later? And again 5 or 6 times?

          I get a lot of distributed dictionary attacks like that. Its pretty normal.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Not sure what it means, but I'm tempted to plug-in Guitar Hero and jam along to your firewall logs.

      Just let me finish my Klax game first.

    • Re:Skylab Shreds (Score:5, Informative)

      by HybridJeff ( 717521 ) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @06:26AM (#30877118) Homepage
      The graph is kind of misleading, its not actually to scale and its not showing the 5 days he claims in the youtube description. Go to around the 3:05 mark and watch the time stamp when he mouses over Romania. On the far right you can see an early date of 2009-09-15, as he scrolls to the right we can see a date of 2009-09-28 at the second stripe which is roughly in the middle of the graph, continuing on the far right hand side portion of the graph is dated 2009-09-30. The left hand side of the graph shows results over the span of 13 days and the right hand side taking up the same visual space only shows 2-3 days. Basically I just wasted 15 minutes looking over worthless data on a random youtube video that doesn't actually say anything.
  • 2001 (Score:2, Funny)

    by jamesh ( 87723 )

    Anyone else tempted to hum the theme tune to 2001 when they looked at that?

    And also... "oh my god... it's full of stars"

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Is this post an advertisement for Quova or Green Phosphor's Glasshouse?
  • I'm actually a lot more interested in the vertical stripes than the horizontal ones. It looks like at certain times, every country in the world sends a packet . .
    • Re:vertical stripes (Score:5, Informative)

      by jmauro ( 32523 ) on Saturday January 23, 2010 @10:38PM (#30874892)

      It looks like an active attack probably from one source with a number of controlled bots helping out.

      The packets from every country at once are probably spoofs sender IP addresses from one or more sources (probably the spike countries).

      The spiked country traffic are probably the controlled bots attacking the host actively.

      Without seeing the actual packet data it's just a guess though.

    • This could just be a case where traffic is routed through different proxies at nearly the same time by a relatively small group of computers or Something coordinated many different machines to connect to their server(s) like a botnet.

    • by Animats ( 122034 )

      I'm actually a lot more interested in the vertical stripes than the horizontal ones. It looks like at certain times, every country in the world sends a packet.

      Yes, I noticed that. The edges on the stripes are so sharp that I suspect a bug in the analysis or graphing program. Either he's being attacked intermittently by an widespread, tightly synchronized botnet, or the breakdown by country is bogus. I'll bet he has some bug like getting the bytes of an IP address backwards, so when he gets a traffic s

  • RTFV: this is one of the more interesting problems ive seen posted in years.... Especially as a China resident... Odd... Thought /. community?

    "Does this mean anything?"

  • Somebody who doesn't forgets Poland.

    (even if traffic from there wasn't unusual in any way)

  • by Frogking ( 126462 ) on Saturday January 23, 2010 @10:33PM (#30874840) Homepage

    Wait, is this just an advertisement for Glasshouse? The voice in the video on Green Phosphor's website is exactly the same.

    What gives?

    • by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Saturday January 23, 2010 @10:39PM (#30874904)

      Wait, is this just an advertisement for Glasshouse? The voice in the video on Green Phosphor's website is exactly the same.

      It is totally the same guy - the background noise sounds identical too - like he recorded it on the same microphone with the same environmental conditions.
      Hell, he even starts each narration exactly the same with the pattern of, "Hi <name> here."

    • by NoTheory ( 580275 ) on Saturday January 23, 2010 @11:11PM (#30875128)
      If you check the other uploaded videos on youtube [] by the same guy (who's name appears to be "Ben Lindquist", the CEO of Green Phosphor, found on blogger [] and twitter []), there is an introduction to Green Phosphor's Glasshouse []. So yeah, Slashvertisement done in the style of Lost.

      Welcome to the future of advertising. /sigh.
      • by Firehed ( 942385 )

        And to think that I was going to ask what kind of person has enough time to make data visualizations like that. Guess it's easy when that's your job.

        Still, the video raises an interesting question, slashvertisement or not. (FWIW, I wouldn't have known what company was being slashvertised if it hasn't been pointed out a dozen times in the comments)

      • by noidentity ( 188756 ) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @12:25AM (#30875562)
        Maybe you could do a visualization of this guy's astroturfing. And for some reason it seems highly appropriate to use his own visualization tools for it. The ad demonstrating the product would be based on everywhere the ad itself had been spammed. I love it.
  • Interesting. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dartz-IRL ( 1640117 ) on Saturday January 23, 2010 @10:33PM (#30874842)

    It's pretty interesting. You can see the countries with the largest botnets in the log... which also seems to suggest that a large majority of the packets are coming from the one botnet... since a good number of them kick in at the same time.

    It also looks cool. Which is critical.

  • by Itninja ( 937614 ) on Saturday January 23, 2010 @10:34PM (#30874848) Homepage
    Is this guy filtering out backscatter like DNS replication and time updates? If it's from a State agency it's entirely possible that are running a root DNS server on-site (I work st a State agency and we are). Also, what timezone is he in? Knowing that might help explain the spike at 21:00. Is that GMT? Need input!
  • Why am I worried? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 23, 2010 @10:34PM (#30874850)
    So you have access to these firewalls but you don't know how to go about diagnosing the problem aside from an Ask Slashdot? Am I the only one who's a little baffled by this?
  • My guess (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JoshuaZ ( 1134087 ) on Saturday January 23, 2010 @10:36PM (#30874872) Homepage
    It looks to me like the lines of major activity likely corresponded to major news events or other events that caused people to look at the relevant government agency. Without more data it is difficult to speculate. It might be possible to look at the approximate date (Early September of 2009) and find a specific event that would cause this. Indeed, it might then be possible to actually make a guess as to what government agency the firewall belonged.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sfcat ( 872532 )
      If that was the case, it you would see a more gradual decline in the traffic and not so regular usage across the board. Its looks like a bot net with significant infection in the countries with increased traffic after the first stripe. I'm sure something with more experience in this type of thing could tell us even more about it however...
  • Looking at the pop-up labels that show up when you mouse-over the data, there seems to be a huge temporal discontinuity in your data set: right at the first vertical stripe, the displayed date/time labels jump from 2009-09-17 to 2009-09-27. Maybe I'm just misreading the display, but a 10-day discontinuity would seem to account for the anomaly you describe.

    It couldn't be that easy, could it?

    • It might account for the first vertical stripe directly (ten days' worth of minimal packet data accumulated into one data point), but then you would expect the data from the busy countries to then be ten times as high for that one data point.

      But what it does indicate is that there are ten days of missing data that most likely show the start of this behavior and could provide further insight.

      I wonder whether this data was inadvertently left out by the submitter, inexplicably dropped by the third-party proces

  • Ad (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 23, 2010 @10:45PM (#30874940)

    it means that this is an ad for Quova and Green Phosphor's Glasshouse

  • by PCM2 ( 4486 ) on Saturday January 23, 2010 @10:46PM (#30874944) Homepage

    Am I the only one who found the five minutes of this video to be about as interesting as listening to a stoned person describe the cracks on the ceiling?

    You designed the visualization, buddy. If it's "freaking crazy looking," rather than yielding any useful insight, then obviously you did not visualize it in a meaningful way. You failed, in other words.

    But as an earlier poster noted, this is just a Slashvertisement for the visualization tool in question. No doubt it will be quite effective on the kind of people who talk as slowly as the guy in the video.

    • by garcia ( 6573 )

      You designed the visualization, buddy. If it's "freaking crazy looking," rather than yielding any useful insight, then obviously you did not visualize it in a meaningful way. You failed, in other words.

      I don't know this guy or how he obtained the data he used to build the visualization but based on his question asking what is happening, it would appear that he doesn't understand the data that he analyzed visually. So, to respond to your point that it's his fault because he couldn't properly frame the data v

  • First, we would need to know what kind of traffic we are seeing. TCP/UDP? Web? DNS?

    On the other hand, I think you have only partial logs, that would explain many of the blanks on your data. Some blanks are too geometric to be correct, you are probably missing a shitload of data.
    You have to take into account that, and timezones. Timezones are the key to this. This is probably some public service that gets hit at regular intervals (root DNS server, webserver holding news/stock/climate or similar information,

  • Web robots. Just put a robots.txt file in your web directory and that pretty much shuts it down.

    Also take into account that China, Russia, et al are +12 from us So that might explain some of it. In other words, they might be caching your site.
  • So why is he using State property for personal gain? My guess is his logs for his website were way too boring.

    Shouldn't there be some agency in Florida who does not want their logs posted, even in cartoon format, in an internet video. I'm guessing this is probably either the Florida Dept. of Revenue or the Florida Dept. of Financial Services.

  • It just means (Score:5, Interesting)

    by OeLeWaPpErKe ( 412765 ) on Saturday January 23, 2010 @11:01PM (#30875042) Homepage

    (this is a guess, obviously. Full netflow data would tell me more, but only way to be really sure would be a full packet trace)

    This just shows that you're being scanned with random source IP adresses (that's why the vertical stripe lights up). It is essentially a check to see if part of the botnet has more firewall access than other parts, or if a loadbalancer directs stuff to different firewalls, or if you have additional BGP uplinks, some of which might not be quite as secure.

    Then the real scan starts, which uses the information gained in the first phase to make sure it tests out all the firewalls the target network has. Especially in the case of backup bgp links, where traffic comes in on physically and administratively different lines (say 1 verizon, 1 at&t, if you've got money to burn, and most govt. idiots feel the need to burn money). If the company in addition to the multiple uplinks outsources firewalls to those ISPs (or "security", not knowing what they're buying and getting nothing more than a smug false sense of security), again this is done by too many govt. agencies, you are bound to find holes this way. This uses actual bandwidth, and cannot be done on some networks. So what you're seeing is a disproportionate amount of scanning traffic coming from countries with fast networks and few watchful netadmins (or netadmins that just don't care, in Turkey's case), and many unsecured computers (and dear God, Turks and Russians really do not see any need for virusscanners, but generally you'd see a few other countries in there too. Heh the Russians are probably worried that running a virusscanner will interfere with their development of new viruses)

    The regular repeats of vertical lines are probably to rescan reachability information, in case something changed. BGP can be twitchy, especially with incompetent local admins (on the botnet side of the network I mean)

    From the (low) speed of the attack you can further deduce that it was an advanced attack, meant to stay below rate limiters, and presumably meant to stay below the radar. And from the resources required to pull this off you can deduce that this was not a lone hacker. Perhaps an organization (these days, tracing source ip's for security attacks almost invariably yields an IP address in far inland China, which is not because the russians have stopped attacking networks, but the Chinese are putting quantity above quality it seems these days).

    And frankly, if someone has this kind of patience, generally they will find at least something, even in a well maintained network. Best hope it was only some files left out in the "public" folder or ~username folders. It's a good bet they probed the network security in other ways too (esp. googling), with IP's that will tell you much more about where the attack is coming from (using many hops is possible, but results in very slow page loads. And we're all human)

    Btw : looking up a net's country can be done quickly via dns, no need for external company, no need for any tax dollars :

    [kimmy@t61 ~]$ host -t TXT descriptive text "US"

    (don't forget to reverse the IP address : looking up is done by host -t TXT

    • Perhaps the same group China was using to pull data from Google? It would match with the criteria you outlined in your post (sophisticated attack, resources required, etc). Whomever is handling the LEO side of the Google investigation should get a copy of these logs.
  • My guess is that it's a bot net becoming active.
    The countries with higher traffic during that period are countries that are widely known to have high bot net activity they are also more likely to have server bot net activity, which is why they don't stripe like the over countries.

    The stripes are likely day/night where infected PCs are turned off when not in use.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 23, 2010 @11:13PM (#30875140)

    "I happened to have access to five days worth of firewall logs from a US state government agency..."

    "While skimming through my grandmother's cookbook, I stumbled upon a recipe for processing yellowcake uranium..."

    "In passing, a close personal friend mentioned to me that he would deploy ~30k troops to a Mideastern country, but he's worried that the local restaurantuers won't serve fresh babaganoush ..."

    "While I was talking to a famous adult film star about my successful experiment with cold fusion..."

    "I was fighting against an alien invasion of the Soviet Union the other day. Natalie Portman and I prepared a platoon of sharks with frickin' hotgrits cannons on their heads, but the unwelcome overlords kept jumping the sharks..."

    • by jra ( 5600 )

      +1 Funny. (I'm in the thread, or I'd mod.)

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I want to be your friend.
  • I'd guess you are seeing a bot-net attack. The bot-net army would have the greatest numbers in IT-heavy countries (US, India, China). The command structure would cause them all to attack at (roughly) the same time, regardless of time zone.

    Or maybe you've been slashdotted.

  • Is no-one else bothered by the fact he has access to raw logs from a government system? Are there no privacy concerns from a private citizen being allowed to scan for users of government system? For instance, let's imagine it's the local IRS server - he now knows exactly what forms you were downloading, or perhaps visitors to a government site to help people find providers of mental health care. Really I don't care what the site was, it just seems like there's no valid reason for anyone to have raw data

  • This just doesn't seem like a big deal. The countries he points out are all in the same timezones so it's probably just their normal day starting. So this probably correlates to dns refresh or some other aspect (vertical) of general internet operations landing on the same hour.

    He needs tcp port analysis and to compare days - the pattern is probably the same from day to day.

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Lights on and infected MS boxes start up in the tropics and old Europe?
      That would need some day/night bars on the graph per country of origin.
      You get that kind of thinking with $1,000,0000 budgets from ex spooks selling their services back to a flay over state via power point. "Please note China and Brazil"
      If a bot was written to target the US, why run your US bot during the US day, the gov admin might be just at their desk, awake and clicking.
  • Nothing really "interesting". What you notice is that around 9:00PM a bunch of East Asian countries start to show some spiked traffic. My guess is botnets on computers that are being turned on during the day generating a lot of traffic data. Or just computers coming on in general, for anything. There's no context as to what data they were requesting, it could have been simple search hits or image hits, or link hits in google or whatever else. But what it shows to me is nothing more than "hey look, the easte
  • Maybe the fact that you put random chunks of data from days apart next to each other has something to do with it?

  • for a powerful client, but i need, you, random slashdork, to help me out here

    no, i'm not a salesman

  • by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Saturday January 23, 2010 @11:53PM (#30875392)
    I see no reason whatever that it would be necessary to use either Quova or Green Phosphor. Any competent programmer could have sampled the data, used whois to get location, and then used about 1000 different programs to visualize the data just as well. (Like Crystal Reports or Seagate.)

    The fact that OP did neither, and is involved at a high level with one of the two companies, makes this whole post suspicious.

    My best guess is that OP thought he had discovered a way to freely advertise via Slashdot, and victimized us as a result.

    I get enough Spam. I don't need to see even more, on Slashdot. Can this user be blocked?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by flydpnkrtn ( 114575 )

      I know it's trollish, but the real question is: can kdawson be blocked?

      (yes I know you can block authors in your user prefs... I mean from Slashdot entirely.... save us the pain, please, for the love of god)

  • The vertical stripes, indicating worldwide activity at the same time, are probably the result of botnets being ordered to target an area that includes your IP pool. (or possibly, specifically your organization - depending on where you got the logs this may be more or less likely) The horizontal stripes are of course showing continuous activity from specific regions, which can indicate activity of a regional botnet doing general penetration scans looking for more machines to infect. For example, botnets th

  • while you were processing the numbers? did you use Microsoft(TM) Windows(R) Moviemaker(C) to make the Youtube(TM) video?

  • Maybe all the bots are part of the same botnet and were programmed to attack at the first spike.
    The fact they are located in different countries doesn't mean anything, it's simply hiding whoever is really behind the attack.

  • when something happens all ovr the world at the same time in DC, it is likely a zombie computer network hitting EVERYTHING. The countries with activity rising in general after the first blast probably indicates that the zombies in those countries are successful, and are increasing their attacks.
  • by dweller_below ( 136040 ) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @01:01AM (#30875832)

    Nice visualization. Wonder if there is some way to do it in real time.

    I've done networking and security for a university for the last 10 years. I can guess what this kind of activity would be if it was at my institution. Basically, there are several reasons why every country in the world will suddenly talk to us. They include P2P/Gnutella's, P2P/Swarmcasting, Bittorrent, Skype, P2P-poisoning, P2P-misdirection, and hacker/bot activity.

    When we have pulses like you are observing, it is usually BitTorrent.

    The Gnutella P2P variants don't usually have that many peers. And, they tend to last for several hours or days.

    The various Swarmcasting P2P variants look very similiar to BitTorrent, but again, the users tend to leave them running for hours or days.

    A popular Torrent makes connections to hundreds of locations at once, and usually the local user shuts down in minutes (or an hour) when they get their file.

    Skype won't be narrow bands. It will be every country in the world talking to you all the time. We have had computers promote themselves up the Skype infrastructure until they are constantly talking to over 600K peers. Of course, it is more normal to see a Skype node talking to 10K to 20K peers, but still Skype won't be bands. Skype raises the floor for the entire graph.

    P2P-poisoning would closely match your bands. For several years we observed pulses where every member of a large P2P cloud would attempt to talk to a non-existing IP at our institution. Eventually, we realized that somebody was attempting to render the P2P cloud non-functional by poisoning the P2P community with info on non-existing peers. Of course, since this is a Denial of Service (DoS) attack, this is technically illegal, but we saw it happening for years. But, it appeared to stop a couple years ago (about the time Obama replaced Bush) and we haven't seen any evidence of it lately.

    P2P-misdirection is where a cloud will attempt to confuse traffic analysis by throwing out random connections/packets to random IPs. Typically, this misdirection happens all the time, and not in bursts/bands.

    Bot attack activity doesn't match your patterns either. We observe several types. None would look like your bands:
    - The spoofed attacks will look like every one of your IPs getting acks from a few remote IPs.
    - The mapping activity will look like a representative sample of your IPs getting traffic from a few dozen IPs.
    - An incoming DoS would have a few of your IPs get (spoofed) traffic from everywhere, but it would be sustained.
    - Portscans will only involve a handful of remote IPs.
    - The Tag-team SSH password guessing is close. During the last week, we observed about 3000 sources located all over. But, it happens all the time (in the aggregrate), not in bursts. And the sources this week are concentrated in Italy, Poland, Eastern Europe, Colombia, and Brazil. They aren't really all over the world.

    So, I'm guessing it is BitTorrent. But, your situation may be way different from mine.


  • Translation (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Alex Belits ( 437 ) * on Sunday January 24, 2010 @01:03AM (#30875854) Homepage

    Vertical stripes may be from spoofed addresses -- nothing from real sources, even botnets, can be that uniform across the whole address space. It would make sense to check how much of traffic comes from unallocated address space, as packets from there are guaranteed to be spoofed. Why would anyone do such a thing? As a direct portscan it would be useless (he can't see the responses), however it might be used as a smokescreen to hide a real portscan or attack from some of those addresses. It may even be an attack that floods the DNS servers with fake responses in the attempt to poison DNS cache, thus redirecting some of the traffic to the attackers' addresses.

    Then, after whatever kind of discovery was completed, you have seen some targeted host scans, [D]DoS attempts or actual exploits causing large amount of traffic (horizontal stripes).

    Another possibility is that those packets are responses caused by something on your network being coerced into sending packets uniformly to the whole address space. It may be something as stupid as a web page with random redirects, however more likely it is a worm on some of your computers looking for other members of his botnet. After such discovery some hosts joined the botnet[s], producing horizontal stripes composed of traffic from other botnet members.

  • and sent

    several million

    of them to a company called Quova, who gave me back full location info on every 40th one.

    Well, there you have it. Unless you can prove, that that filtering that Quova does, does not influence your results, you can’t really draw any information from it. Could just be selectivity, applied by Quova. Or a otherwise bad filter.

    Only if you are safe in that regard, would you first have to look at the actual outgoing traffic, in case there are correlations. (Which, considering the data, seems very likely.)

  • It appears that the big countries, like china, and india shows up with more hits than the small countires like angola and cuba.

    I wonder what that can mean? Is it similar to the statistical fact that most truck accidents happen in US made trucks?

    In the latter, until you factor in that 95% of US trucks are made in the US, you have only meaningless statistics.

    It seems that current incarnation of this analysis tool suffers the same flaw.

1 Angstrom: measure of computer anxiety = 1000 nail-bytes