Feeds

Conficker botnet growth slows at 10m infections

Diary of the Dead

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Infections as a result of the infamous Conficker (Downadup) worm have peaked at around the 10m PC mark.

Variants of Conficker use a variety of methods to spread, including exploiting the MS08-067 vulnerability in the Microsoft Windows server service patched by Redmond in October. Once it gets a foothold within corporate networks, Conficker is programmed to spread across local area networks. The worm also spreads between infected USB sticks and Windows PCs.

Compromised Windows PCs are turned into drones in a botnet, programmed to phone home through a changing series of servers. It's this latter behaviour that has allowed F-secure to track the progress of the worm over the last two weeks or so. Its latest educated guess of the size of the botnet is 10m strong as of Friday, 23 January, 1m up on the 9 million of the week before.

The 9m on 16 January compares to 2.4m on 13 January, so the growth rate of the botnet is clearly flagging.

That still leaves the huge problem of cleaning up infected systems, preferably before they are abused to send spam or other malfeasance. The Conficker botnet remains dormant at the time of writing. F-secure stresses that its latest estimate is at best an educated guess, because of a number of factors that make estimating the size of the botnet problematic.

As time passes, the number of estimated Downadup infections becomes more problematic to calculate as we are monitoring a varying number of domains. Re-infections may also be inflating the count. In any case, today seems better than the day before and we think that the growth of Downadup has been curbed. Disinfection of the worm remains a challenge.

Some countries are being more heavily hit by the zombie epidemic. China, Russia and Brazil account for 41 per cent of infected IP addresses, F-secure reports. By comparison, only one in 100 infections stems from an infected machine in the United States.

Conficker represents a return to the network worms of yesteryear, infections such as Nimda, Sasser and Blaster. Reasons for the return of the problem after years of dormancy have been unclear - the best we could dig up when researching the issue last week that writing network worms was too much like hard work.

F-Secure security adviser Sean Sullivan has a more sophisticated theory that seems to ring true.

"We haven't seen a worm like this in several years because Microsoft learned from the past, and Microsoft Updates does a good job," Sullivan told El Reg. XP Service Pack 2 turned on the Windows Firewall by default.

"Also the production of malware moved from hobbyist to professional; worms create too much noise typically." ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Webcam hacker pervs in MASS HOME INVASION
You thought you were all alone? Nope – change your password, says ICO
You really need to do some tech support for Aunty Agnes
Free anti-virus software, expires, stops updating and p0wns the world
Meet OneRNG: a fully-open entropy generator for a paranoid age
Kiwis to seek random investors for crowd-funded randomiser
USB coding anarchy: Consider all sticks licked
Thumb drive design ruled by almighty buck
Attack reveals 81 percent of Tor users but admins call for calm
Cisco Netflow a handy tool for cheapskate attackers
Privacy bods offer GOV SPY VICTIMS a FREE SPYWARE SNIFFER
Looks for gov malware that evades most antivirus
Patch NOW! Microsoft slings emergency bug fix at Windows admins
Vulnerability promotes lusers to domain overlords ... oops
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.