Feeds

Zotob arrests throws open trade in compromised PCs

Diabl0-ical

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

One of two men arrested last week over the Zotob worm outbreak has been linked to the creation of 20 other viruses.

Farid Essebar, 18, a Russian-born Moroccan resident, was arrested by investigators last Thursday, less than two weeks after Zotob worms exploited recently-discovered Windows flaws to disrupt high profile organisations around the world. Essebar was allegedly paid by his supposed accomplice, Atilla Ekici, to create the worms. Ekici has been arrested in Turkey by police investigating the case.

Essebar is believed to use the nick-name "Diabl0", a phrase embedded inside the Zotob-A worm. Sophos researchers have determined that over 20 other viruses include the "Diabl0" handle, including numerous variants of the Mytob worm (a code cousin to Zotob) as well as a MyDoom variant, MyDoom-BG.

"Until the authorities recover source code from the suspect's computers there won't be any hard evidence but the use of the 'Diabl0' handle is circumstantial evidence of linkage. Virus writers tend to sign their work like graffiti artists," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at anti-virus firm Sophos.

"To the untrained eye the Mytob and Zotob worms can appear quite different: one group of viruses travels via email, the other mostly by exploiting a Microsoft security hole. But when examined by an experienced virus analyst, the similarities become clear. It appears whoever wrote Zotob had access to the Mytob source code, ripped out the email-spreading section and plugged in the Microsoft exploit," he added.

Sophos reckons several people have access to the Mytob source code - so last week's arrest will at best only slow down rather than curtail the production of fresh variants. Anti-virus firm F-Secure agrees with Sophos that Diabl0 is the likely author of several of the Mytob variants since February this year. "However, he's not behind all of them," said Mikko Hyppönen, director of anti-virus research at F-Secure. "There's around 70 known variants of Mytob and practically all of them create botnets of the infected machines. Some of these botnets have been controlled by unrelated groups, such as Blackcarder."

F-Secure has found Mytob variants written after Essebar's arrest, backing up their theory that multiple virus authors are involved in distributing the malware strain. But there's little doubt "Diabl0" is a significant player. Some earlier Mytob variants downloaded additional components from a site associated with the 0x90-Team, an underground gathering site for bot authors. "Diabl0 aka Farid Essebar was associated with 0x90-Team," Hyppönen writes in an entry to F-Secure's weblog which notes the 0x90-team.com was defaced last weekend by hackers objecting to the activities of bot authors.

Earlier this month separate groups of hackers released a barrage of worms in a battle to seize control of Windows PCs that remain vulnerable to the now infamous Windows Plug-and-Play vulnerability exploited by Zotob. Fragments of evidence suggest a group called m00p is creating IRCBot variants that compete with Zotob variants created by 0x90-Team over the control of vulnerable Windows PCs. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
UK smart meters arrive in 2020. Hackers have ALREADY found a flaw
Energy summit bods warned of free energy bonanza
DRUPAL-OPCALYPSE! Devs say best assume your CMS is owned
SQLi hole was hit hard, fast, and before most admins knew it needed patching
Feds seek potential 'second Snowden' gov doc leaker – report
Hang on, Ed wasn't here when we compiled THIS document
Mozilla releases geolocating WiFi sniffer for Android
As if the civilians who never change access point passwords will ever opt out of this one
Why weasel words might not work for Whisper
CEO suspends editor but privacy questions remain
DEATH by PowerPoint: Microsoft warns of 0-day attack hidden in slides
Might put out patch in update, might chuck it out sooner
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.