Feeds

Conficker gets upgraded with defenses

Anti-cabal resistance

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

Researchers at Symantec have discovered what could be a significant development in the ongoing Conficker worm saga: a new module that is being pushed out to some infected systems.

In a couple of ways, the new component is designed to harden infected machines against an industry consortium that is actively trying to contain the prolific worm. For one, the update targets antivirus software and security analysis tools to prevent them from removing the malware. Not only does it try to disable anti-malware titles, it also goes after programs such as Wireshark and regmon.

And for another, it also greatly expands the number of domain names infected machines contact on a daily basis.

Up to now, a pseudo random domain name generator produced 250 addresses that infected machines reported to each day. The industry consortium, dubbed the Conficker cabal, responded by cracking the algorithm and snapping up those domains ahead of the malware authors to prevent the infected machines from sustaining further damage.

The new component ups the ante by increasing the number of domains to 50,000 per day.

"It's clearly trying to work around the work of the cabal," Vincent Weafer, vice president of Symantec Security Response, told The Register.

So far, Symantec has been able to confirm delivery of the new component to only a handful of machines. Symantec researchers are in the process of determining if the updates are just the beginning of what will eventually be pushed out to infected machines everywhere, but either way, this appears to be the first time the malware authors have actually pushed out an update. Up to now the machines have phoned home but never received a reply.

"That's what makes this interesting, because this is what we believe is the first example of receiving an answer to that call," Weafer said. "Today is the very first case of that being successful."

Estimates of the number of machines infected by Conficker vary, from hundreds of thousands to more than 10 million. Weafer and other security researchers have said Conficker's growth has slowed over the past few weeks. That suggests its authors may be more focused on protecting the machines they've already vanquished than claiming new ones. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
14 antivirus apps found to have security problems
Vendors just don't care, says researcher, after finding basic boo-boos in security software
Only '3% of web servers in top corps' fully fixed after Heartbleed snafu
Just slapping a patched OpenSSL on a machine ain't going to cut it, we're told
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Israel's Iron Dome missile tech stolen by Chinese hackers
Corporate raiders Comment Crew fingered for attacks
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
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
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
Four fake Google haxbots hit YOUR WEBSITE every day
Goog the perfect ruse to slip into SEO orfice
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
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.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.