Feeds

Evil twins spread zombie plague

Sdbot and Gaobot infections behind most botnets

Build a business case: developing custom apps

The Sdbot and Gaobot malware families are responsible for most botnets worldwide. The two strains were responsible for 80 per cent of detections related to bots during the first quarter of 2007, Spanish anti-virus firm Panda Software reports.

Other culprits, although on a lesser scale, included Oscarbot, IRCbot or RXbot. The widespread abuse of Sdbot and Gaobot to create networks of zombie compromised PCs is due to other factors beyond ease of infection or potency of their code, explains Luis Corrons, technical director of PandaLabs.

"This dominance is not so much due to any special features of Gaobot or Sdbot, but simply because their code is much more widely available on the internet. This means that any criminals that want to make a bot can simply base it on the source code of these threats, making any modifications they choose. Essentially, this saves them a lot of work," he said.

Bots are automated worms or Trojans used by hackers to gain control of computers. Networks of compromised machines under the control of hackers (botnets) are used to send spam, covertly install spyware and adware on compromised machines, or used as a resource from which to launch denial of service attacks, for example.

In 2006, bots accounted for 13 per cent of all new threats detected by PandaLabs. Of those, 74 per cent belonged to the Sdbot and Gaobot families. Bots often spread through emails that use social engineering to trick users into opening infectious attachments or (more commonly) con users into visiting hacker-controller websites that exploit system vulnerabilities to install malware, so-called drive-by-downloads.

Up until recently most bots were controlled through IRC servers, allowing hackers (bot-herders) to hide behind the anonymity of chat servers. Newer-generation bots can be controlled through web consoles using HTTP, making it easier to manage larger networks of compromised systems. "Control through IRC is useful for controlling isolated computers. However, this system is not so useful when it comes to botnets. By using HTTP, bot herders can control many more computers at the same time, and can even see when one of them is online or if the commands have been executed correctly," explains Luis Corrons.

Companies are advised to carry out periodic audits to check that there is no malware hidden on their networks. Panda Software, along with other anti-virus firms, offers a range of enterprise packages designed to keep malware threats at bay. It also runs an automated security audit service called Malware Radar.

On the home front, Panda is launching an awareness campaign featuring easy access to its new online scanning tools via Infectedornot.com. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Rupert Murdoch says Google is worse than the NSA
Mr Burns vs. The Chocolate Factory, round three!
Microsoft cries UNINSTALL in the wake of Blue Screens of Death™
Cache crash causes contained choloric calamity
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Germany 'accidentally' snooped on John Kerry and Hillary Clinton
Dragnet surveillance picks up EVERYTHING, USA, m'kay?
Know what Ferguson city needs right now? It's not Anonymous doxing random people
U-turn on vow to identify killer cop after fingering wrong bloke
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
Who needs hackers? 'Password1' opens a third of all biz doors
GPU-powered pen test yields more bad news about defences and passwords
Think crypto hides you from spooks on Facebook? THINK AGAIN
Traffic fingerprints reveal all, say boffins
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
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.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
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.