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Imagine That! - Internet Telescope

Imagine That!
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Imagine That! - Internet Telescope

Credit: NSF/Finger Lakes Productions International

Audio Transcript:

On the dark side of cyberspace, worms roam free and the spam flies thick. Hackers beware! The network telescope is watching!

Imagine that!

(SOUND: computer keyboard)

In 2001, the Code Red worm shut down 360,000 computers in ten hours.

(SOUND: computer whirring down)

Two years later, it took just ten minutes for the Sapphire worm to infect 75,000 computers.

(SOUND: faster whirring down)

Stop the madness! Bring on the network telescope! -- A tool for monitoring the dark side of the internet.

(SOUND: high pitched signal)

How does it work? The scope, which runs out of the San Diego Supercomputer Center, keeps a close watch on seemingly unsuspicious spam -- emails sent to a legal address with no valid recipient. These emails, which are collected by the scope and then monitored by researchers, often indicate worm activity which the researchers are then able to track. David Moore at the University of California, San Diego, offers this analogy:

Moore: "Basically, we have a large number of phone numbers that all come to us and we just answer the phone on them and see who's there, and that way you can tell who is doing these kind of operations where they are just going to random machines."

(SOUND: gritty music)

Twenty-four seven, the network telescope helps programmers dope out hacker hijinks and other dark matters on the seamy underside of cyberspace. I'm Eric Phillips.

"Imagine That!" covers projects funded in part by the U.S. government's National Science Foundation. Federally supported research -- brought to you by you! Learn more at

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