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Whitehats peer into new botnet's heart of 'Darkness'

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Whitehat hackers are tracking a new botnet that's quickly become a popular platform for launching web attacks.

Over the past few weeks, members of the Shadowserver group have observed the Darkness botnet unleashing distributed denial of service attacks on more than 100 websites in the financial, insurance and retail industries. They've also uncovered an online campaign advertising DDoS-for-hire services that boast high quality and an average cost of $50 for 24 hours of use (and better deals for “regular customers”).

“It now appears that 'Darkness' is overtaking BlackEnergy as the DDoS bot of choice,” Shadowserver volunteer Andre' M. DiMino writes . “There are many ads and offers for DDoS services using 'Darkness.' It is regularly updated and improved and of this writing is up to version 7. There also appear to be no shortage of buyers looking to add 'Darkness' to their botnet arsenal.”

BlackEnergy is the name of another popular bot kit that's widely used in DDoS attacks.

The malware that powers Darkness touts state-of-the-art features including the redundancy of being able to be hosted on three separate command and control channels, and “quite impressive” throughput that simultaneously directed traffic on multiple sites. Its user interface comes in English or Russian and the software runs as a Windows service.

Darkness has been observed using greatfull-tools.ru and greatfull.ru for its C&C servers. At time of writing, neither site appeared to be operational. ®

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