The Background Noise of the Internet

The last five to ten years has seen massive advancements in open source Internet-wide mass-scan tooling, on-demand cloud computing, and high speed Internet connectivity. This has lead to a massive influx of different groups mass-scanning all four billion IP address in the IPv4 space on a constant basis. Information security researchers, cyber security companies, search engines, and criminals scan the Internet for various different benign and nefarious reasons (such as the WannaCry ransomware and multiple MongoDB, ElasticSearch, and Memcached ransomware variants). It is increasingly difficult to differentiate between scan/attack traffic targeting your organization specifically and opportunistic mass-scan background radiation packets.

Grey Noise is a system that records and analyzes all the collective omnidirectional background noise of the Internet, performs enrichments and analytics, and makes the data available to researchers for free. Traffic is collected by a large network of geographically and logically diverse “listener” servers distributed around different data centers belonging to different cloud providers and ISPs around the world.

In this talk I will candidly discuss motivations for developing the system, a technical deep dive on the architecture, data pipeline, and analytics, observations and analysis of the traffic collected by the system, business impacts for network operators, pitfalls and lessons learned, and the vision for the system moving forward.

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