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
'Things' on the Internet-of-things have 25 vulnerabilities apiece
Leaking sprinklers, overheated thermostats and picked locks all online
iWallet: No BONKING PLEASE, we're Apple
BLE-ding iPhones, not NFC bonkers, will drive trend - marketeers
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
Multipath TCP speeds up the internet so much that security breaks
Black Hat research says proposed protocol will bork network probes, flummox firewalls
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
Fiendishly complex password app extension ships for iOS 8
Just slip it in, won't hurt a bit, 1Password makers urge devs
Tor attack nodes RIPPED MASKS off users for 6 MONTHS
Traffic confirmation attack bared users' privates - but to whom?
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.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
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.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.