Feeds

Security pros fail to get a grip on meaty bot

Lethic spam package uses Stuxnet nuke nobbler cert ploy

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

A new variant of the Lethic botnet agent comes signed with a digital certificate from the same firm whose identity was abused by the infamous Stuxnet industrial control system worm.

Lethic is a spam-spewing botnet that ranks relatively low in terms of compromised machines but bears a disproportionately high responsibility for the world's dodgy pharmaceuticals and replica watch junk mail. Takedown efforts at command and control systems back in January only provided a temporary respite from the deluge.

Recent variants of the Lethic botnet come "signed" with digital certificates from Taiwanese manufacturer Realtek Semiconductor Corp, just like variants of Stuxnet that infected power plants in Iran, India and elsewhere back in summer. Stuxnet is capable of reprogramming SCADA-based industrial control systems.

Iranian authorities admitted the worm infected systems at its controversial Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant but denied this was the reason for subsequent delays in bringing the reactor online, blaming a mystery "minor leak" instead.

The digital Realtek certificate misused by the Stuxnet worm was verified by a certificate authority. Lethic's Realtek signature, by contrast, wasn't verified and is probably some sort of forgery.

Zscaler, the security firm that first noticed the abuse of the Realtek certificate, reckons this is evidence that malware authors are picking on the same organisation for convenience rather than because of any collusion between the unknown Stuxnet and Lethic gangs.

Mike Geide of Zscalar concludes a detailed and nicely worked analysis by concluding that even though the Realtek signature used in recent variants of Lethic was a counterfeit, the same tactic may have been applied by the same gang to other strains of malware. "While this is not a digital signature - it is still identifying info that may be able to tie certain malware samples to the same author / group / or binary builder," he writes. ®

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
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
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.