Feeds

Koobface gang refresh botnet to beat takedown

Twitter scourge changes pants

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Command and Control servers associated with the infamous Koobface worms have gone through a complete refresh over the last fortnight. Russian net security firm Kaspersky Lab reckons the change up might be aimed at making takedown efforts by cybercrime fighters more difficult.

Koobface spreads via messages on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. The worm and compromised legitimate websites act as proxies for its main command and control servers. Infected machines are contaminated with other forms of malware, in particular scareware (rogue anti-virus), an easy and most profitable mechanism in general for cybercrooks to make money.

Over the last two weeks, researchers at Kaspersky have seen Koobface C&C servers shut down or cleaned an average of three times per day. The number of control nodes dropped steadily from 107 on 25 February, to as low as 71 on 8 March, before doubling to 142 just two days later on 10 March.

These control systems are important because they orchestrate the operation of zombie, infected drones. In the course of this process the percentage of Koobface C&C servers hosted in the US increased from 48 per cent to 52 per cent.

"The changes are a sign that botnet gangs are not just putting their malware out there but managing it like sys admins," David Emm, senior technology consultant at Kaspersky Lab UK told El Reg.

"Cybercriminals are constantly monitoring their infrastructure making sure the botnet is neither attracting too much attention nor running with too few command and control servers, which would risk them losing their control over the botnet."

Earlier this week around a quarter of the command and control servers linked to Zeus information-stealing botnet were taken offline after upstream providers pulled the plug on east European ISPs. The disruption followed a week after authorities in Spain and the US announced the arrest of three Spaniards following an early operation to take down the 12-million-plus strong Mariposa botnet.

Late last month, a court order obtained by Microsoft allowed domains associated with the Waledac spam-spewing botnet to be null routed.

Kaspersky's Emm said the Koobface gang would almost certainly be monitoring these takedown activities in devising a counterstrategy.

Kasperky Lab researchers reckon that around 100 C&C active servers, and dozens more in reserve, is the sweet-spot for the Koobface gang.

Although most of the Koobface C&C servers remain in the US, the gang has systems scattered across the world and with different ISPs, in order to make the takedown process harder.

"If the heat was increased I'm sure they could pull out of the US. The gang behind the botnet are managing and controlling their systems quite carefully," Emm told El Reg. ®

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

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
NORKS ban Wi-Fi and satellite internet at embassies
Crackdown on tardy diplomatic sysadmins providing accidental unfiltered internet access
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
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.