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'Bulletproof' ISP for crimeware gangs knocked offline

Zeus-friendly PROXIEZ goes MIA

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One of the internet's most resilient and crimeware-friendly networks was knocked offline Friday after the plug was pulled on its upstream service provider, security watchers said.

Russia-based PROXIEZ-NET lost its connection to the internet at about 3 am California time, according to Zeus Tracker, a website that monitors the status of internet service providers used to control PCs infected by the notorious Zeus crimeware package. Before it was disconnected, the "bulletproof" provider hosted 13 known Zeus command and control channels, making it the most Zeus-friendly ISP, Zeus Tracker statistics show.

Zeus Tracker leaders don't yet know the reason for the outage, but one of them pointed out to The Register that PROXIEZ-NET's upstream provider, DIGERNET, has also had its internet connection severed. Classless Inter-Domain Routing records show it being unceremoniously withdrawn from internet routing tables, leaving its downstream node unable to communicate.

PROXIEZ-NET has been widely accused as being a haven for purveyors of crimeware. On Tuesday, the network was added to the real-time block list maintained by Spamhaus. On Thursday night, DIGERNET was removed from the same list.

It remains to be seen how big a disruption the disconnection will have on Zeus crime gangs, which have come to regard such outages as a cost of doing business. In March, the takedown of 100 servers used to operate Zeus-related botnets turned out to be a short-lived victory for white hats. Within a couple days, their ISP was able to find a new upstream provider, allowing many stranded Zeus botnets to find their way home again.

Indeed, at time of writing, vitamelatonin.biz and a handful of other dodgy looking domains continued to map to IP addresses in PROXIEZ-NET's netblock, DIG lookup searches showed. The domains may die out over time, but a Zeus Tracker leader also held out the possibility that redundancies built into Zeus botnets would allow them to connect over alternate channels.

The disruption is nonetheless a black eye for PROXIEZ-NET, which has billed itself as a bulletproof provider that is immune from service glitches and law enforcement-driven takedowns. Representatives from the ISP didn't respond to an email seeking comment for this article. ®

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