Much like Pandora identifies patterns in music to come up with new songs that its users might like, OpenDNS is listening to the traffic patterns of the Internet as a whole in order to spot patterns of malicious activity.
The company processes more than half a terabyte of traffic data every hour, 80 billion queries a day, or about 2 percent of all the traffic in the world, according to Andrew Hay, director of security research at OpenDNS.
The company also has access to several years’ worth of stored traffic data.
“Very few companies can say that they see this kind of traffic,” he said.
The algorithm, called SPRank, uses mathematical concepts most often used to analyze sound waves, such as in Pandora’s Music Genome Project.