Feeds

Zotob arrests throws open trade in compromised PCs

Diabl0-ical

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

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. ®

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
BMW's ConnectedDrive falls over, bosses blame upgrade snafu
Traffic flows up 20% as motorway middle lanes miraculously unclog
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Putin: Crack Tor for me and I'll make you a MILLIONAIRE
Russian Interior Ministry offers big pile o' roubles for busting pro-privacy browser
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.