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Rising Latvian Botnets Sparks Clash Between Spamhaus and NIC.LV

Rising concerns over the rush of malicious e-mails from Latvia have started a discordant clash between the country's domain registry of top level and anti-spam organization 'Spamhaus,' as reported by The Register on August 13, 2010.

NIC.LV, which manages .lv addresses, has blamed 'Spamhaus' as "ill-mannered, arrogant and offensive" after it added a huge chunk of Latvian IP addresses to its anti-spam list. It further claimed that thousands of internet users including academic users, non-profit organizations, state and municipal institutions, companies and individuals were cut off because of Spamhaus action.

According to Spamhaus, they discovered the pattern of .lv web addresses being utilized by DDoS attackers and spammers, and linked majority of the wrong traffic to a small ISP called Microlines. Spamhaus' appeal of taking down those servers received no response, thus the organization placed the company's IP range on blocklist.

Further investigations highlighted the information that Microlines' traffic was being carried by a larger ISP called Latnet Serviss. Once again Spamhaus researchers attempted to report the misuse to this ISP, but again got no response. As a result, Spamhaus countered by adding an element of Latnet's IP range (on the basis of abuse address) to its blocklist.

However, unknown to Spamhaus, Latnet Serviss had successfully outsourced the management of its exploited department to the University of Latvia's Institute of Mathematics and Computer Science, which is a home to both country's Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) and NIC.LV. Thus, the institute and many other associations were efficiently cut off from the internet. This incident got noticed by the NIC.LV.

Though the block on the Institute's IP address was detached within few hours following an exchange of emails, previously in this month (August 2010) it issued an open letter to mailing lists condemning Spamhaus of ineffectiveness and complaining at the perceived injustice.

Besides, Latnet Serviss criticized Spamhaus, as the block was moved to include its IP range, stating that they should not be blacklisted as they are one of the major ISPs in Latvia. Spamhaus was not persuaded by this appeal, and answered that Latvia was one of the smallest countries in the world - indicating that they would block anyone and everyone disobeying the rules.

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