Jump to content
Join the Unexplained Mysteries community today! It's free and setting up an account only takes a moment.
- Sign In or Create Account -
Sign in to follow this  

'Criminal' Botnet Stumps for Ron Paul

Recommended Posts


'Criminal' Botnet Stumps for Ron Paul, Researchers Allege

By Sarah Lai Stirland 10.31.07 | 12:00 AM

If Texas congressman Ron Paul is elected president in 2008, he may be the first leader of the free world put into power with the help of a global network of hacked PCs spewing spam, according to computer-security researchers who've analyzed a recent flurry of e-mail supporting the long-shot Republican candidate.

"This is clearly a criminal act in support of a campaign, which has been committed with or without their knowledge," says Gary Warner, the University of Alabama at Birmingham's director of research in computer forensics. "The question is, will we see more and more of this, or will this bring shame to the campaigns and will they make clear that this is not a form of acceptable behavior by their supporters?" Warner pointed to provisions of the federal Can-Spam Act.

Ron Paul spokesman Jesse Benton says the campaign has no knowledge of the scam. Warner himself says that he has no reason to believe that the Paul campaign had anything to do with these messages.

Some participants in the online political world have long suspected Paul's technically sophisticated fan base of manipulating online tools and polls to boost the appearance of a wide base of support. But the UAB analysis is the first to document any internet shenanigans.

The finding is significant, because Paul's online support -- as gauged by blog mentions, friends on social-networking sites such as MySpace and popularity in online polls -- has garnered him wide mainstream print and television coverage, despite his relatively poor performance in offline polling.

The spamming allegations are based on a slew of e-mails captured by contributors to the university's Spam Data Mining for Law Enforcement Applications project, a research venture that receives 2.5 million spam messages a day, and selects about 100,000 a week for analysis. The project receives its spam from other researchers with ties to ISPs, and in some cases from "trap" addresses that have never been used for any other purpose.

They were received by the lab following the latest televised Republican debate Sunday afternoon, and had 16 different subject lines, including "Ron Paul Wins GOP Debate! HMzjoqO" and "Ron Paul Exposes Federal Reserve! SBHBcSO." The random string of characters at the end is a common spammer's technique to circumvent bulk e-mail filtering.

The spam went to "several hundred" e-mail addresses harvested for the university project, says Warner.

The e-mails had phony names attached to real-looking e-mail addresses. When lab researchers examined the IP addresses of the computers from which the messages had been sent, it turned out that they were sprinkled around the globe in countries as far away from each other as South Korea, Japan, the United Kingdom, Nigeria and Brazil.

"The interesting thing was that we had the same subject line from the same IP address, and it claimed to be from different users from within the United States," Warner says.

One e-mail was designed to look as if it came from within a major Silicon Valley corporation, he notes. But when the researchers looked up the IP address, the computer from which the note was sent was actually in South Korea. Another e-mail that was designed to look as if it came from Houston was sent from Italy.

That pattern led Warner to conclude that the messages had been laundered through a botnet -- also a standard spammer practice, though a decidedly illegal one.

The body of a message examined by Wired News covered familiar Paul campaign themes, such as ending the war and eliminating the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Reserve. It also read:

Ron Paul is for the people, unless you want your children to have human implant RFID chips, a National ID card and create a North American Union and see an economic collapse far worse than the great depression. Vote for Ron Paul he speaks the truth and the media and government is afraid of him.

Last week, the prominent conservative blog Redstate banned new Paul supporters from posting on its site because of their "shilling" for the candidate in conversations that had nothing to do with politics. Other sites have disabled their online polls, because they suspected that they were being gamed by Ron Paul supporters.

Notwithstanding such charges, Paul's third-quarter haul of $5 million in campaign contributions seems to show that he does have a larger base of support than offline polls indicate.

Dan Hubbard of security company Websense reviewed one of the messages captured by the university. He believes that there was some type of spam-laundering in use -- though not necessarily a botnet.

"I have not seen a malicious-code sample yet that is sending these mails, therefore I would say it's likely that either they are using a botnet, or they are using open relays," he says, referring to unsecured e-mail servers that will accept anonymous e-mail and forward it back out to the internet.

Paul spokesman Jesse Benton said in an e-mail, "This is the first I've heard about this situation."

"If it is true, it could be done by a well-intentioned yet misguided supporter or someone with bad intentions trying to embarrass the campaign," he wrote while ferrying his boss to tape an appearance on The Tonight Show. "Either way, this is independent work, and we have no connection."

This article has been modified to clarify that Warner has seen no evidence suggesting that the Paul campaign is responsible for the spam.


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites


Edited by Neognosis

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

It was suprisingly enough FOX news that ran with this fake story. I talked to a guy from a Ron Paul forum and he says he works for an ISP and has NEVER even heard of Ron Paul bots spamming email addresses.

What I think happend is that ROn Paul went on Leno and millions of people got the chance to hear about him and Fox and other MSM outlets now are trying to demonize the movement again.

Remember a few months ago where tons of news sites online falsely reported a story that Ron Paul was a racist? Same thing.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.