Feeds

Undead botnets blamed for big rise in email malware

Grave concern over reanimated cyber-corpses

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Malicious spam volumes increased dramatically in the back half of 2009, reaching three billion messages per day, compared to 600 million messages per day in the first half of 2009. But this is still a tiny fraction of the estimated global spam volume, thought to be about 200 billion messages per day.

A new report by net security firm M86 Security points the finger of blame for the torrent of malware, phishing and other scams (collectively defined as malicious spam) and junk mail more generally towards botnet networks of compromised machines. It reckons five botnets were responsible for 78 per cent of the malicious spam it fought in the second half of 2009.

M86 reports that the major spam botnets such as Rustock, Pushdo (or Cutwail) and Mega-D continue to dominate spam output, supported by second-tier botnets such as Grum, and Lethic. Rustock alone pushed out 34 per cent of spam in 2H09. Pushdo zombie drones puked out one in five spam messages (20 per cent), with Mega-D zombies account for 9 per cent of the global junk mail nuisance.

Just like Mega-D before it, the Lethic botnet has returned from the grave since it was decapitated by the combined efforts of security firms and ISPs in early January, a sign that criminal hackers are building more resilient systems with better "disaster recovery" features.

"The spamming botnets are constantly in flux, waxing and waning, morphing, becoming obsolete, being replaced, taken down, and upgraded," M86 explains. "It is important to identify the major contributors to the volume of spam, so the industry can take action against them, such as the botnet takedowns that have already occurred."

In related news, Symantec warned on Wednesday about a new targeted email attack designed to seed agents of the Cutwail botnet on corporate systems.

Botnet clients offer a handy tool for information stealing and launching denial of service attacks, as well as distributing spam. A recent study by net security firm Damballa ranks the ten worst botnets by number of infections within enterprise networks.

This survey rates the infamous ZeuS spyware agent as the greatest menace to corporate security, with the Koobface worm, which spreads via messages on social networks, a close second. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
'Kim Kardashian snaps naked selfies with a BLACKBERRY'. *Twitterati gasps*
More alleged private, nude celeb pics appear online
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
UK.gov lobs another fistful of change at SME infosec nightmares
Senior Lib Dem in 'trying to be relevant' shocker. It's only taxpayers' money, after all
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
TOR users become FBI's No.1 hacking target after legal power grab
Be afeared, me hearties, these scoundrels be spying our signals
Snowden, Dotcom, throw bombs into NZ election campaign
Claim of tapped undersea cable refuted by Kiwi PM as Kim claims extradition plot
Freenode IRC users told to change passwords after securo-breach
Miscreants probably got in, you guys know the drill by now
THREE QUARTERS of Android mobes open to web page spy bug
Metasploit module gobbles KitKat SOP slop
BitTorrent's peer-to-peer chat app Bleep goes live as public alpha
A good day for privacy as invisble.im also reveals its approach to untraceable chats
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
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.