Feeds

Conficker zombie botnet drops to 3.5 million

Map of the Problematique

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

The "activation" of Windows machines infected with the latest variant of the Conficker worm has allowed security watchers to come up with a far more accurate estimate of how many machines are infected.

Early versions of Conficker called home to 250 different domain names every day to check for updates. Since Wednesday, machines infected by with the latest version of the worm (Conficker-C) began using a sample of 500 out of pre-programmed 50,000 domains a day to search for upgrades.

The unknown virus writers who created the worm are yet to publish any such update, but the call-back behaviour has allowed anti-virus firms to come up with an estimate of how many machines are infected by Conficker-C for the first time.

Vietnamese antivirus firm Bkis reckons 1.3m machines are infected with Conficker-C. A breakdown of infections by country, compiled by Bkis, can be found here. The combined number of computers infected by Conficker A and B is 2.2m, according to Bkis.

That total of around 3.5m is in line with a detailed technical analysis by Conficker which puts the size of the Conficker botnet at between three and four million strong.

IBM's X-Force has a mash-up using Google Maps or Conficker infections across the world, which can be found here. The Conficker Working Group has published more detailed infection maps here.

Estimates of the number of machines ever infected by Conficker vary from ten to 15 million, but these figures ignored disinfections and other factors. It's more meaningful to talk of the current number of zombie drones rather than the number ever infected, because it gives a much better idea of the potential for harm.

As predicted by security watchers beforehand, Conficker's 1 April "activation" passed by without anything happening, much like previous malware trigger dates associated with nuisances such as the Michelangelo virus (1992), CIH (1999), SoBig (2003), and MyDoom (2004). The unknown authors of Conficker didn't publish updates on 1 April, but since infected machines check for updates on a daily basis it would be wrong to think that the threat has passed. Updates using the P2P mechanism built into the worm are also possible.

F-Secure has compiled an updated, informative FAQ on Conficker here, which cover important questions such as how to tell if you're infected and much more besides. Conficker blocks access to security sites, a factor exploited by Joe Stewart of the Conficker Working Group to create a simple test here. ®

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

More from The Register

next story
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
Early result from Scots indyref vote? NAW, Jimmy - it's a SCAM
Anyone claiming to know before tomorrow is telling porkies
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo! caught in malvertising mess
Cisco says 'Kyle and Stan' attack is spreading through compromised ad networks
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
China hacked US Army transport orgs TWENTY TIMES in ONE YEAR
FBI et al knew of nine hacks - but didn't tell TRANSCOM
Microsoft to patch ASP.NET mess even if you don't
We know what's good for you, because we made the mess says Redmond
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
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?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.